This goes directly to several threads I've authored about the age of the USAF fleet, and the problems they are facing. Lt. Col. Christopher Niemi
has written a paper on the F-22 program, and the current status of the US fighter fleet. He has some very interesting things to say, and is extremely
knowledgeable on the subject. He is one of eight IOT&E pilots for the F-22, and the former commander of the 525th Fighter Squadron from Elmendorf
He starts out with a graph that should scare the hell out of anyone that follows the Air Force in any way. In 1985, there was a high of almost 200
aircraft purchased. This included the first F-15Es, F-15A-D, and F-16s. By 1995 there were a total of zero aircraft purchased. This was repeated in
1999. In 2001 and 2002, a very small number of aircraft were bought. The majority of them were F-22s, with a few F-15Es included. From 1993 on, the
highest number of aircraft purchased per year was only around 20.
His next point is about service life that has been used to date. Over 200 aircraft have used between 41-50% of their service life. Almost 700 have
used between 61-70% of their service life. Then we come to the F-15. A disproportionate number of F-15s as compared to other aircraft have used
between 71-91% of their service life.
Here's where things get interesting. In 1993 the GAO issued a classified report on the F-22/F-15 debate. The unclassified version was released in
1994. The unclassified version claimed the F-15 was superior in four of the five categories analyzed. It stated that except for China, seven countries
that were analyzed only had between 188 and 460 aircraft, fewer than the F-15s that were in service at the time. The F-15 would be able to maintain
air superiority until the 2014 time frame the GAO said, and recommended that IOC for the F-22 be delayed seven years.
The Air Force countered with its own report on the matter. According to their report the F-15 was inferior in range, and short range missiles, equal
in radar and long range missiles, and only superior in flight performance. They argued the GAO underestimated the threat, and overestimated the F-15
capabilities. They used the non-existent threat of a Soviet project that never came to production in their simulations.
The Air Force at one point claimed that the F-22 would be able to do the mission of an RC-135 (it can't), and would have many features that are
actually equal to or superior on the upgraded F-15C as opposed to the F-22.
There's a lot more in there, but the scary part is that the Air Force is ignoring all the lessons that they should have learned with the F-22
program, and doing the exact same thing with the F-35. Soon we're going to have a fleet of F-22s and F-35s, and nothing else, because everything
else is either too old to penetrate enemy airspace against the defenses in place, or has fallen apart because they've gone so far past their life
It's really made me nervous to see how bad the fighter force has fallen apart, but everyone ignores it, and says that everything is fine. The Air
Force is rapidly going down the road to wearing the Emperors new clothes.