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Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by stirling
The Air Force has more aircraft than most other Air Forces that they would come up against. The problem is that the average age of said fleet is as old as their pilots. The F-15 is limited in the number of Gs that it can pull. The F-16 fleet has cracks in something like 25% of the fleet. The only reason the A-10s are in good shape is because they're upgrading to the C standard, which replaces the wing box, which will extend the life of the airframe.
They're trying to use two aircraft to replace four, that all have different missions. They are going to end up with a small fleet of aircraft, trying to do every mission that they fly, and it's going to fail miserably. Other countries are slowly starting to catch up, which is a problem for our fourth generation fighters, that are still the backbone of the force. Until they buy a more diverse fleet, like they have now, they are going to screw themselves into the ground.
The fighter’s capabilities will make it a three- or four-for-one asset, said the Lockheed briefers, meaning that it will be able to simultaneously perform the roles of several different aircraft types—from strike to electronic attack, from command and control to battlefield surveillance. O’Bryan pointed out an important truth about air combat: Fourth generation strike aircraft assigned to hit targets guarded by modern anti-access, area-denial systems (A2/AD, in military parlance) require the support of "AWACS, electronic attack, sweep airplanes, SEAD" (suppression of enemy air defenses) aircraft and cruise missiles. Such a package could run to dozens of aircraft. The same mission, he claimed, can be achieved with just a quartet of F-35s. Each would be capable of operations that go well beyond air-to-ground missions. The four-ship would be a potent factor in any scenario calling for the employment of airpower, O’Bryan asserted. In short, he concluded, the F-35 is "the efficient package" for future strike missions, offering high probability of success with "lower probability of loss." When it comes to maintainable stealth design, the F-35 represents the state of the art, O’Bryan said, superior even to the F-22 Raptor, USAF’s top-of-the-line air superiority aircraft. The F-22 requires heavy doses of regular and expensive low observable materials maintenance. F-35 stealth surfaces, by contrast, are extremely resilient in all conditions, according to the Lockheed team. "We’ve taken it to a different level," O’Bryan said. The stealth of the production F-35—verified in radar cross section tests performed on classified western test ranges—is better than that of any aircraft other than the F-22. This, he went on, is true in part because the conductive materials needed to absorb and disperse incoming radar energy are baked directly into the aircraft’s multilayer composite skin and structure. Moreover, the surface material smoothes out over time, slightly reducing the F-35’s original radar signature, according to the Lockheed Martin official. Only serious structural damage will disturb the F-35’s low observability, O’Bryan said, and Lockheed Martin has devised an array of field repairs that can restore full stealthiness in just a few hours.