Air Force positioning itself to be more irrelevant

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posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 07:48 AM
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reply to post by JimTSpock
 


No, there will be manned aircraft after the F-35. The optionally manned bomber that Gates wanted built, is going to most likely be manned now. The Air Force has said that unmanned technology at that level would be prohibitively expensive for the industry to produce, so they're looking at manned options instead of optionally manned. That's my problem with the leadership.

The USAF should be years ahead of everyone (and they are now), and stay years ahead, but they're going to lose that lead, because of the entrenchment of the manned aircraft mentality. Other countries are catching up (allies and not so friendly nations). China has recently flown a Predator type UAV (not as good as the Predator, but not half bad either), Europe has flown their first stealthy UAV in the Neuron, with Taranis flying next year. The US still has the lead in stealth, and in UAVs, but what's going to happen when they stop building UAVs, or very slowly develop UAVs? If they wait on the Navy UCLASS program, they're going to wait 10-15 years minimum, without a truly new UAV coming online. That's a minimum of 10 years to allow others to catch up to where the US is today. That's a long time, and even then, the USAF is going to have to wait years for any new UAV to be developed, so we're actually looking at more like 20 years for the MQ-X program. That's huge.
edit on 12/10/2012 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 07:50 AM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


I've followed the technology side for years, but only recently got deep into the political side of things, during the KC-X fiasco. What I've found over the last few years is truly amazing. It's stunning to see the entrenchment that I always knew was there, and how deep it really goes. And it just gets worse, because it won't go away.



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 10:38 AM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by JimTSpock
 


No, there will be manned aircraft after the F-35.
You don't know that to a certainty. It's a long time until the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) will enter service and that program is highly classified. We'll have to wait and see what the aircraft ends up as but I think there is a strong possibility that it will be optionally manned by the time it enters service if it isn't cancelled.
This is interesting.

However, despite strong support from senior leaders at the Pentagon, it is unclear if the LRS programme will survive a "sequestration" budget-cutting measure, which will come into effect on 2 January. If Congress and the president are unable to find a solution, another $500 billion will be cut from the US defence budget in the next 10 years. If that happens, "all bets are off", says Mark Gunzinger, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. With an aircraft the size of a strategic bomber, there is little cost difference between a purely manned and an optionally manned aircraft, says Gunzinger: "For large combat aircraft, it is not much of a factor at all."


If the USAF continually changes or adds ever more elaborate requirements, the LRS-B could suffer the same fate as previous USAF bomber projects such as the B-2 or the ill-fated Next Generation Bomber (NGB), which was cancelled in 2009.


www.flightglobal.com...

This aircraft program is a work in progress and until it enters service or is cancelled it maybe premature to speculate on the exact details of what it will eventually end up as.
edit on 11-12-2012 by JimTSpock because: spelling



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 10:48 AM
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I've always been a fan of using UAVs for SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) in heavily defended airspace. If the USAF continues in this direction, they better increase their CSAR (Combat Search and Rescue) assets. Anybody wantint to know why just has to look at the F-15 that was lost over Libya last year.



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 11:58 AM
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Concept from Lockheed Martin about the fighter after the F-22, which at this point really is hard to imagine. 2030 is a long way into the future. A generational leap above the F-22 is something I can only imagine. A super stealthy hypersonic UCAV that can do very high G maneuvers?


Simply removing the pilot from an aircraft or introducing incremental improvements in signature and range does not constitute a generational leap in capability. These improvements are already being looked at for our 5th generation fighters.



Greatly increased speed, longer range, extended loiter times, multi-spectral stealth, ubiquitous situation awareness, and self-healing structures and systems are some of the possible technologies we envision for the next generation of fighter aircraft. Next generation fighter capabilities will be driven by game changing technological breakthroughs in the areas of propulsion, materials, power generation, sensors, and weapons that are yet to be fully imagined.


www.flightglobal.com...



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 01:03 PM
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reply to post by JimTSpock
 


I don't know it for a certainty no, but the current leadership has already said that an unmanned aircraft of that size, and design may be beyond the capability of the current designs, and prohibitively expensive, and they are looking at going manned for any new bomber. So the odds of seeing an unmanned design for the LRS-B is dropping quickly.



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 01:17 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


This is from sept 2012.



Therefore, the announced decision to make LRS-B optionally manned represents a well-considered decision for the nation, providing it with maximum operational flexibility at acceptable cost, investing wisely in future capability, and taking advantage of a strategic opportunity to significantly expand key unmanned technologies and autonomous capabilities without holding the program, or mission need, at risk to them.


www.armedforcesjournal.com...

I think they will leave open the possibility for optionally manned by the time it actually enters service which will probably be another 10 years. Is it even needed at all?



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 01:24 PM
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reply to post by JimTSpock
 


They're going to leave it open, but with what they're doing to the UAV programs already in existence, I don't see them going unmanned, unless they're forced to. The current fleet of UAVs was rammed down their throats by Gates, when he was SECDEF, and now that he's gone, they're trying to get rid of them. There is no excuse for cutting the RQ-4 fleet and saying that the U-2 is cheaper and fits better with their missions. There is some evidence that costs of the U-2 operations were deliberately shifted to the Global Hawk operations budget, and hidden there to make the Global Hawk appear more expensive, and to help justify their decision to cut brand new aircraft from service.

We need some kind of new bomber. The B-52 is going to be flying until 98 years old, the youngest turned 60 this year. The B-1 is from the early 80s, and the youngest B-2s were from the mid to late 90s. They're getting long in the tooth, and the B-52 can only be used as a cruise missile platform if there is any kind of real defense system in the area.
edit on 12/11/2012 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 01:33 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


I knew you'd mention the B-52s and B-1Bs and how old they are. Those B-52s are amazing to still be flying for such an old design.
Well I suppose the USAF will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century one way or another.



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 02:07 PM
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reply to post by JimTSpock
 


It's not just them, it's the entire Air Force fleet, but they relate to the LRS-B program. The entire AF fleet is as old as the pilots flying them, or even older. The only way they're going to join the 21st century is if someone forces them to.



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 05:39 PM
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Employing UAV's for the role of SEAD or Air Interdiction is completely unrealistic at the moment with >1s latency between controller and plane.. Win a dogfight when you're lagging at least a second behind your opponent. Evade a SAM, where timing and reaction is absolutely critical, when what you are seeing is more than a second in the past.

The USAF is developing UAV technology. See the X-47 and probably other not so likely unmanned platforms. The problem is that manned aircraft are far more practical and capable, and will be for the foreseeable future.

UAV's have always and will for at least a few more years be embarrassed by manned fighters in all roles except perhaps ISR.
edit on 11-12-2012 by Pants3204 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 06:37 PM
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reply to post by Pants3204
 


The X-47 is a Navy technology demonstrator. It's only showing that they can operate on a carrier.



posted on Dec, 12 2012 @ 11:08 AM
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reply to post by Pants3204
 


If the UAV is stealthed and going after fixed positions, it will do just fine. If a Hellfire can be targeted on a moving truck from a Predator, I can't see any reason why it can't be used against a radar, gun or missile site.





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