Wednesday, August 31, 2016

USAF wants next generation fighter by late 2020s? The timetable tells it all...

via Defense News.
WASHINGTON — After undergoing a yearlong effort that explored the tactics and technologies needed to control the skies in the future, the Air Force is taking its first steps toward making its next fighter jet a reality.

The service has already begun preliminary work ahead of a 2017 analysis of alternatives that will shape the requirements and acquisition strategy for the F-35 follow on, which the Air Force been termed Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) or Penetrating Counter Air (PCA).

But Brig. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, who led the Air Superiority 2030 enterprise capability collaboration team (ECCT), emphasized that there are two major differences between the NGAD effort and its that of legacy fighter jets. The first is the relatively rapid method of acquiring it.

“We need to have something by the late 2020s,” he said in an interview with Defense News. “I think a realistic timeline is somewhere around 2028 with key investments in some key technology areas, you’d be able to have some initial operational capability of a penetrating counter air capability.”

The second difference relates to the recently concluded Air Superiority 2030 study, which made the case that the Air Force’s future dominance will rest not on a single platform, such as a sixth generation fighter jet, but on an integrated, networked family of systems. That combination of penetrating and stand-off capabilities includes a fighter plane, but also a number of space, cyber and electronic warfare assets.
So let me get this straight.  The F-35 MIGHT achieve full operational capability in 2021 (that's a huge MIGHT according to the GAO) yet they're already looking at a follow on fighter?  A service life of 8 years?

Oh and make no mistake about it.  The guy said F-35 follow on.

My prediction isn't popular on or at HQMC but its spot on.  The F-35 is not only obsolete before it enters service, is not only caught up in a death spiral that will see the numbers purchased sliced beyond recognition but they're finally admitting it.  Its not a full throated "we fucked up" but more like a series of news articles telling the tale.  Missile/Arsenal planes?  The idea of buying more F-16s and F-15s for the USAF?  The USN stating flat out that they need more Super Hornets?

The only outlier is the USMC.  HQMC has sold their soul for this airplane and the ramifications of this decision will be felt for generations.

I have always been a supporter of STOVL aircraft, but the price the USMC is paying for the F-35 is just way too high.  Maybe the answer will be found in developments by the Army and Navy with the next generation rotor craft.  It might be time for the USMC to give up on fast jets (yeah...I can't believe I'm even entertaining the idea but the Wing is out of control).

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