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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #25 on: December 27, 2007, 15:00:24 »
Maybe our Hornets won't be needed in Alaska:
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/12/27/grounding_of_f_15s_strains_us_defense/

Quote
FRESNO, Calif. - The grounding of hundreds of F-15s because of dangerous structural defects is straining the nation's air defense network, forcing some states to rely on their neighbors' fighter jets for protection and Alaska to depend on the Canadian military.

The F-15 is the sole fighter at many of the 16 or so "alert" sites around the country, where planes and pilots stand ready to take off at a moment's notice to intercept hijacked airliners, Cessnas that wander into protected airspace, and other threats...

For three weeks last month, Canadian CF-18s filled in for the F-15s over Alaska. Several times, the Canadian fighters scrambled to "do an identification" of Russian bombers flying exercises outside US airspace near Alaska, said Major Mike Lagace, a Canadian military spokesman for NORAD.

"We flew up, met with the long-range patrol, basically let them know, 'Hi, folks, we're here too,' " Lagace said.

Russian warplanes have been flying exercises near Alaska and Canada with increasing frequency in recent months.

Now, a brand-new squadron of F-22s based in Alaska is standing in for the state's grounded F-15s, said Technical Sergeant Mikal R. Canfield, a spokesman at Elmendorf Air Force Base...

Wall St. Journal argues for more F-22s:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110011043

Quote
On November 2, Major Stephen Stilwell of the Missouri Air National Guard was taking his F-15 Eagle through its paces when the plane did something for which it hadn't been engineered: It cracked into pieces.

Maj. Stilwell survived the accident, but the F-15 fleet--America's signature fighter for 30 years--may not. This isn't just some maintenance issue, but goes directly to the question of whether the United States intends to deploy the world's best Air Force or one that (fingers crossed) is good enough.

The Air Force has since discovered significant stress fractures in at least eight other aircraft, and ordered that 442 of the older-model F-15s be grounded through at least January (though 224 of the newer-model F-15Es continue to fly). Those 442 Eagles, or about a fifth of the total number of fighters fielded by the Air Force, are mainly responsible for homeland defense. They're the ones that would have to be scrambled to intercept hijacked jetliners in the event of another 9/11.

In an alternative universe, the F-15 problem would not be significant, because the Air Force would already be flying large numbers of its designated replacement, the F-22 Raptor. But the Raptor--a fifth-generation fighter that outclasses everything else in the sky--was deemed too costly and too much of a "relic" of the Cold War. The Air Force currently has orders for no more than 183 of the planes (with some Raptor squadrons already fully operational), though there is now talk of keeping the production line open for as many as 200 more. We think it's an investment worth making.

Before the F-15's problems became so glaring, it was plausible to argue that the plane was adequate to meet current defense needs until the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter--still in its testing phase--comes into service sometime in the next decade. But while the Air Force will surely engineer whatever patch the grounded Eagles need to make them airworthy again, it cannot patch the fact that it may be six months or longer before the fleet is back to full operational readiness. This is hardly trivial for a force already strained by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and threats that stretch from the Korean Peninsula to the Horn of Africa.

Nor is there any getting over the fact that the F-15 first flew in 1972--long before many of the current crop of pilots were born--and that the plane is now outclassed by its competitors in the export market. In 2005, a British Eurofighter reportedly defeated two F-15Es in a mock dogfight. Simulated dogfights have also shown that the F-15s are somewhat inferior to Russia's more modern Su-35s [emphasis added--???].

Some defense experts claim the era of air-to-air combat is over, but similar erroneous forecasts have been made before. It's also far from clear that the single-engine F-35 can be considered a genuine replacement for the twin-engine F-15 or an adequate substitute for the (also twin-engine) F-22. The F-35 is something of a hybrid plane, with at least one version of it having a Harrier jet's vertical take-off and landing capabilities, and is also destined for shipborne service. Its great virtue is that it's a cheaper plane, but its performance is in many ways compromised by the various roles it's meant to play. As a fighter, it cannot compete with the Raptor...

The issue, then, is whether the U.S needs the best plane in the sky. For all the talk of the F-22 being a legacy of the Cold War, we are far from convinced that the U.S. will forevermore be faced with only Taliban-like adversaries incapable of fielding air forces of their own, or that the era of great power military rivalries is over. Judging by the expensive weapons systems currently being developed in China and Russia (which on Tuesday successfully tested a new ICBM, apparently Vladimir Putin's idea of the Christmas spirit), it seems that neither country has reached that conclusion either.

We cannot predict what kind of adversaries the U.S. will face in the coming decades, but we do know that part of the responsibility of being the world's "sole remaining superpower" is to be prepared for as many contingencies as possible. One prudent way of reducing the threat is to discourage potential adversaries from trying to match America's advantages in numbers and technology. Replacing our faltering Eagles with additional Raptors may be expensive, but allowing our neglect to be exploited by those who wish us harm would be ruinous.

Story on F-15Cs vs. Indian Air Force planes here:
http://www.indiadaily.com/editorial/06-18-04.asp

Eurofighter and F-15Es here:
http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/ViewArticle.aspx?articleid=2636433

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« Last Edit: December 27, 2007, 15:23:48 by MarkOttawa »
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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2008, 14:10:55 »
Air Force Fighter Fleet in 'Crisis'
AP, Jan. 10
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/10/AR2008011001691.html

Quote
Years of stress on the Air Force's aging jet fighter fleet have led to serious structural problems that could grow worse even after expensive repairs are made, senior service officials said Thursday.

Gen. John Corley, the top officer at Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va., called the situation a "crisis" that would be best solved by an infusion of costly new aircraft rather than fixing jets that are 25 years old.

The mechanical troubles, most acute in the F-15 Eagles used to protect the United States, also have led to a patchwork approach to filling critical air missions at home and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With nearly a third of the F-15 fleet grounded due to a defective support beam in the aircraft's frame, other fighter aircraft, including F-16s and new F-22s, are being shifted from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan [emphasis added--surely no F-22s in Iraq or Afstan?  And I'm pretty sure USAF F-15Es have replaced F-16s in Afstan].

"It's a rob Peter to pay Paul," Corley said at a Pentagon news conference. "It's unprecedented to have an air superiority fleet that's on average 25 years old."

The Air Force's dilemma has been largely overshadowed by the equally urgent demands from the Army and Marine Corps for new equipment to replace the battle gear worn down by more than six years of war. That changed on Nov. 2 when an F-15C aircraft broke in two during a training flight over Missouri...

An investigation of the crash released Thursday concluded that a defective aluminum beam in the frame cracked [empasis added], causing the $42 million jet to disintegrate in the air. There was no pilot error.

More troubling, however, were the findings of a parallel examination that determined as many as 163 of the workhorse F-15s also have the flawed beams, called longerons [emphasis added]. The aircraft remain grounded as the Air Force tries to determine how broad the problem is and whether fixes should be made. Another 19 of the aircraft have yet to be inspected and also remain grounded.

In the report on Stilwell's crash, Col. William Wignall, the lead investigator, said that prior to Stilwell's flight, "no inspection requirements existed for detecting a crack in the longeron." ..

The faulty longerons "failed to meet blueprint specifications," according to the Air Force. No decision has been reached as to whether Boeing might be liable for the repairs [emphasis added], however...

Nearly 260 of the A through D model F-15s, first fielded in the mid-1970s, were returned to flight status Tuesday [emphasis added] following fleet-wide inspections.

The Air Force's fleet of 224 newer F-15E Strike Eagles do not have defective longerons. Those jets, whose role is more oriented toward ground attack missions, were temporarily grounded after Stilwell's crash, but returned to service shortly thereafter...

The F-16, fielded in the late 1970s, is undergoing an extensive modernization program, Corley said. So, too, is the tank-killing A-10, a 30-year old plane used to support troops on the ground.

"This is systemic," Corley said.

The Air Force has fielded more than 90 F-22 Raptors, a stealth fighter made by defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. But these aircraft cost $160 million apiece and the Pentagon has decided to buy only 183. The Air Force has said it needs 381 F-22s and has support on Capitol Hill for a larger acquisition that would keep require tens of billions of dollars.

The F-35 Lightning is another new fighter that is being built but won't be in use for several more years...

By the way, USAF  "airpower summaries" are a useful source for air activity in Afstan--the French are dropping bombs, our Hercs get mentioned sometimes:
http://www.af.mil/news/index.asp?catid=4

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« Last Edit: January 11, 2008, 14:25:16 by MarkOttawa »
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2008, 19:42:36 »
A bit off the point but still interesting is the announcement that the Indians were sending six SU-30's to participate in Red Flag at Nellis, but the Russians didnt want them to use their radar. They dont want the USAF to be able to study the NO11M radar. The radar has been in service for a dozen years or more and I suspect the USAF has studied the radar - but the Russians dont want to take a chance I guess. :)

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2008, 19:57:25 »
A bit off the point but still interesting is the announcement that the Indians were sending six SU-30's to participate in Red Flag at Nellis, but the Russians didnt want them to use their radar. They dont want the USAF to be able to study the NO11M radar. The radar has been in service for a dozen years or more and I suspect the USAF has studied the radar - but the Russians dont want to take a chance I guess. :)

The Indian Air Force faced the same restrictions when they participated in Exercises in the UK. Conveniently, USAF ELINT aircraft were in the UK at the same time........

Offline S.M.A.

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2008, 20:52:25 »
More on the USAF's F15 woes and their causes:

http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,160190,00.html?wh=news

Quote
The Real Story Behind the F-15 Stand-Down
Popular Mechanics | Joe Pappalardo | January 18, 2008
The trouble started on Nov. 2, when a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C crashed during an exercise. The incident quickly blossomed into a temporary, global shutdown of all F-15 flights, so that the planes -- including those owned by overseas customers in countries such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Japan -- could be examined. This was the fourth crash involving an F-15 model this year. "First, only noncritical flights in the U.S. were grounded," says Guy Ben-Ari, a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Then it was broadened to include all noncritical flights in combat operations. Then it was broadened to all flights. That doesn't happen very often." Equally rare is the fact that international customers of the airplane followed the United States' lead in grounding their F-15s. "Makes you wonder what information they are receiving," he says.

Related Story: Defective Beam Cited in F-15 Crash
Most media reports have emphasized the age of the aircraft, which debuted in 1975. However, newer variants -- particularly the F-15E Strike Eagle -- have also been grounded, and the last F-15 went into service in 2004. Now, comments from military officials to Popular Mechanics concerning the examination of structural parts common to all variants hint at a potentially serious problem with the airplane's structural integrity.

Inspecting America's 700 F-15s is a massive undertaking that involves thousands of maintenance crews around the world. In what is called an Immediate Action Time Compliance Technical Order, a list of detailed instructions was handed down to those maintainers whose daily duty is to keep the complex planes flying. "This is done at the base level," says Maj. Tom Crosson, spokesman for Air Combat Command. "The average wrench-turner goes through the checklist."

Operations like environmental duct reinstallation can take Air Force maintainers up to 13 hours to complete. "We have detected no cracks in our inspections so far," one tells PM.

Inspections Work

According to those involved, 13 hours worth of testing is required per airplane before it can pass inspection, with results reported back to Air Force headquarters. Each bolt to be twisted, every panel to be removed and each line to be checked is listed in detail. In the case of the F-15 investigation, Crosson says, specific attention is being paid to the hydraulic system lines, environmental control systems that regulate the cockpit, and structural frames called longerons. Longerons are metal strips that run along the length of the airplane's fuselage and transfer aerodynamic loads from the skin of the airplane to internal frame -- not a place where you want to see signs of weakness.

The longerons require four hours to examine after the jet has been prepared by removing panels to gain access, according to Lt. Col. Al Porter, deputy maintenance group commander for the 366th Fighter Wing. "The maintainers are looking for any cracks in the upper and lower longerons or any other structural deficiency, including any problems around fastener holes or the fasteners themselves," he says.

Part of the inspection uses a noninvasive surface scan that can detect cracks that may be invisible to the naked eye. Electricity is passed through a tightly wound coil, creating a current that will be interrupted by any anomalies, according to Porter. Any suspected cracks are followed up by placing dye in the suspect area and viewed with an ultraviolet light that will confirm a crack. "We have detected no cracks in our inspections so far," Porter says. "The longerons that we are inspecting now are not part of the current phase inspection work cards. It is too early to know if this will become part of future phase inspections."

When maintenance problems arise in airplanes, fingers quickly point at the operational tempo of operations: In other words, the more hours a plane flies, the more likely it is to develop problems. With a military aircraft, however, the pace is less important than where it's flying and what it's called on to do.

During combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, sand and large differences between day and nighttime temperatures can take their toll on an airplane. On the other hand, the missions are relatively easy on F-15s. "These aircraft were designed for superior maneuverability and acceleration while dogfighting," Ben-Ari says. "[In Iraq and Afghanistan] there are no enemy fighter jets or anti-aircraft missiles to outmaneuver." Instead, the planes are logging many flight hours simply loitering in circles, waiting for information on where to drop bombs to help ground forces.

New legislation will send billions of dollars toward Lockheed Martin for its F-22 fighter jets, but experts say the engineering holds up against speculation that money got in the way of the F-15 stand-down.

Debunking a Conspiracy Theory

It may seem logical to ground airplanes after a series of crashes, but there is another explanation for why the Pentagon has been keeping many of its F-15s on the ground. Skeptical analysts and defense watchers on Web boards have speculated that what's really at stake isn't safety, but future budget fights.

The 2008 defense bill passed by Congress designates $3.15 billion to purchase an additional 20 F-22 Raptor jets, a successor to the F-15, from Lockheed Martin. Over the next several years, the Air Force wants to maintain or even step up spending on both Raptors and the F-35 Lightning II (aka the Joint Strike Fighter). But some in Congress have been pushing to limit Air Force spending in order to beef up ground forces. According to the online rumor mill, the well-publicized shutdown of F-15s is meant to provide the Air Force with some leverage when the bean counters come knocking.

So is there any credence to the idea that the Air Force was eager to prove a point by shutting down their fighters? Not really. "The F-22 [consideration] was a side effect," says military analyst and author Jim Dunnigan. "An idea like that would not withstand scrutiny by engineers or historians."

Ben-Ari agrees that the "conspiracies don't hold water." He points out that the Pentagon's operational need for F-22s is well known, and would not likely change based on a stunt that crash investigators could refute. Besides, why try manipulating thousands of savvy engineers and mechanics, when Congress is such a soft target? Traditional lobbying is easier and more effective, Ben-Ari maintains. "I am hoping there is no mix of safety and politics," he says.

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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #30 on: February 15, 2008, 15:43:16 »
Getting nasty for USAF (usual copyright disclaimer):

Fighter dispute hits stratosphere
A Pentagon struggle over weapons policy escalates as a general is rebuked by the Defense secretary.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-airforce15feb15,0,1113261.story?track=ntothtml

Quote
In an intensifying dispute over weapons priorities, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Thursday privately rebuked a four-star general for suggesting the Air Force intended to buy twice as many sophisticated F-22 Raptor aircraft as the Bush administration had approved, according to Air Force officials.

One senior defense official called the remarks by Gen. Bruce Carlson, who heads the Air Force command responsible for testing and developing new weapons, "borderline insubordination," because they contradicted a decision by the president.

In its 2009 budget submitted to Congress earlier this month, the White House approved multiyear plans to buy 183 of the stealthy new fighters at an estimated $140 million apiece. Many Air Force officials, however, continue to insist they need 381 of the F-22s to deter global threats.

The rebuke by Gates on Thursday, in a telephone call to Carlson's superior, reflects a deepening debate within the Defense Department over the direction of the military in the post-Iraq era. In particular, the clash over the F-22 -- the Air Force's premier fighter plane -- has become a microcosm of the argument over what kind of wars the United States is likely to encounter in the future.

With defense spending expected to decline as U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq, some in the Pentagon have argued for shifting money to high-end weapons systems, like fighters and Navy ships, that can be used if needed against rivals with larger militaries, like China and Russia.

Gates prefers a focus on equipment and personnel needed to wage low-grade counterinsurgencies, like Iraq, arguing that such fights are more likely to occur in the near future.

"The reality is we are fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater," Gates told a Senate committee last week [emphasis added].

Carlson, however, told a group of reporters earlier in the week that the Air Force was "committed to funding 380" of the fighters, regardless of the Bush administration's decision.

According to an Air Force official briefed on the Thursday rebuke, Gates telephoned Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne, who was on vacation at the time, to express his displeasure with Carlson...

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #31 on: February 16, 2008, 14:02:49 »
Scrambling:

Air Force says there's no fighter rift
The service's top two officials disown comments made by a general this week implying a dispute over F-22 procurement.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-airforce16feb16,1,5868652.story?ctrack=6&cset=true

Quote
The top two officials of the Air Force on Friday disowned comments made earlier this week by a four-star general who implied the service was at odds with the Bush administration over purchases of sophisticated new F-22 fighters.

Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the Air Force chief of staff, and Michael W. Wynne, the Air Force secretary and top civilian official, said the general's remarks "misrepresent the position of the U.S. Air Force" and insisted they support F-22 procurement plans outlined by the White House.

"The Air Force wholeheartedly supports the president's budget request for the F-22 program," the two officials said in a statement. "We owe it to our nation and to our allies to have an Air Force ready to meet a range of threats now and into the future. The Air Force and the DoD share the same desired end state."

The statement came a day after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates privately rebuked Gen. Bruce Carlson, head of the Air Force command responsible for testing and developing new weapons, in a phone call to Wynne...

The difference over how many F-22s the Air Force should buy reflects a larger dispute within the Pentagon over weapons procurement and the future of the U.S. military. Many Air Force officials disagree with the administration's position and favor buying additional F-22s.

The Air Force has not disputed Carlson's reported comments. But a transcript of the interview provided by the Air Force shows that Carlson may not have been as confrontational as depicted in the original published report.

The transcript indicates Carlson voiced support for buying the additional F-22s, but only "if DoD and the Congress will allow us to do it."

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Offline S.M.A.

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #32 on: February 20, 2008, 19:09:45 »
Yet more woes for the USAF F15 fighter community: 2 Eagles collide in mid-air, but the pilots were rescued, at least.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/02/20/jetcrash/index.html

Quote
Two Air Force fighter pilots have been rescued after their F-15C jets collided during a training exercise over the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday, according to Air Force officials.


Two F-15C fighter jets, like the one pictured, collided over the Gulf of Mexico, the Air Force says.

 Both pilots are alive, but Eglin Air Force Base spokeswoman Lois Walsh said she was unable to comment about their conditions.

The planes were from the 33rd Fighter Wing, a combat-flying unit out of Eglin Air Force Base, near Pensacola, Florida.

The crash happened about 3 p.m. about 50 miles south of Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer James Harless said helicopters, airplanes and ships were deployed from Florida, Alabama and Louisiana to help with the search.

Air Force search and rescue and U.S. Coast Guard crews raced to the scene of the collision to pick up the two fliers, who had been on a routine training mission.

In January, a top Air Force general said a manufacturing defect blamed for causing a midair breakup of an F-15 Eagle fighter, which occurred in November, might lead the Air Force to permanently ground a quarter of those warplanes.

There is no information that points to a manufacturing defect as the cause of Wednesday's incident
« Last Edit: February 20, 2008, 19:16:40 by CougarDaddy »
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Offline Yrys

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #33 on: February 20, 2008, 19:15:15 »
but the pilots are rescued.

I don't know how much the planes cost, but at least the pilots are OK.

Just curious, are the planes insurable when they are in training ?
I presume not when in combat zone...
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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2008, 19:26:05 »
Yrys.... I do not think the pilots have collision insurance on "their" planes.

And governments do not insure thru insurance companies.  It called "self assumed insurance".... IE - the plane has been bought & paid for.... bye, bye
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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #35 on: February 20, 2008, 22:53:43 »
Sad update to this story.

Article Link

CNN) -- An Air Force fighter pilot died Wednesday after two F-15C jets collided during a training exercise over the Gulf of Mexico, according to Air Force officials.

 The planes were from the 33rd Fighter Wing, a combat-flying unit out of Eglin Air Force Base, near Pensacola, Florida.

A spokesman for the wing said the pilot died after having been rescued by a fishing boat and transported to the hospital at the base. The pilot of the other jet was also rescued and was listed in good condition, he said.

The crash happened at about 3 p.m. ET, about 50 miles south of Tyndall Air Force Base which is in Panama City, Florida. A statement from the 33rd said the pilots were rescued at about 6 p.m. ET.

"The 33rd FW Nomads and Team Eglin have suffered a great loss today and my heart goes out to the family and friends of our former airman," said wing commander Col. Todd Harmer in a written statement.

"We will continue to do everything we can to assist our families and airmen at this tragic time."

Capt. Jim McPherson of the Coast Guard told CNN the crew of a Coast Guard aircraft on a training mission spotted a parachute dropping into the Gulf Wednesday afternoon.

The crew used radar and an automated identification system to detect a fishing boat in the area and directed that boat to the area where the parachute landed.

The Air Force was not identifying the pilots late Wednesday pending notification of their families. Harmer said both were "assigned to the wing for quite some time."

He said the Air Force will convene a board of officers to investigate the crash and determine its cause.
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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #36 on: February 21, 2008, 08:48:04 »
Dang!

Rest in Peace
Hope the other pilot recovers and gets back into the saddle quickly

My condolences to the Family, friends and comrades of the fallen.

We will remember them!

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #37 on: February 23, 2008, 13:56:37 »
Whoa! The USAF F15 pilot who died last week was an American Muslim.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/feb/23/me-pilot-and-patriot-is-laid-to-rest/

Some people give Muslim-Americans in the States a lot of crap for what most of them don't do; apparently the person who wrote this article wanted to salute one who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Quote
By KURT LOFT and LAURA KINSLER,
The Tampa Tribune

Published: February 23, 2008

Updated: 12:14 am

TAMPA - A Tampa family laid their 26-year-old son to rest Friday, honoring the sacrifice he made for his country.

"Our son has died with great honor, and this is not bestowed on anyone," said Mehboob Jivanjee, whose son, Ali Jivanjee, died after a midair collision of two F-15C Eagles. "I'm proud he served his country in the best manner and the way he wanted to."

The Pentagon said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jivanjee died from injuries after ejecting from his plane during a routine training exercise over the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday. A second, unidentified pilot parachuted safely after the two $30 million jets collided.

With the help of a fishing vessel, Coast Guard crews found both men after a three-hour search. The pilots were from the 58th Fighter Squadron of the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, and their planes struck each other about 35 miles south of Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida's Panhandle. A safety board investigation is under way.

Following Muslim tradition, a funeral service was held Friday at Sunset Memory Gardens in Thonotosassa. Jivanjee leaves behind his wife, Sara.

"Our son sacrificed his life for the United States," Mehboob Jivanjee said. "His friends, every one of them from the commander to the sergeants - including their wives - showed me how close they were to my son."

Many showed emotion during the graveside ceremony, and expressed their pride and appreciation for the young man's dedication.

"We love America," said his father, whose family moved to Tampa from California three years ago. "I'm proud to be a father and an American. This is our land, and we love America. If I had more sons, I would give them to this country, too."

Jivanjee joined the Air Force in 2004 after graduating with a degree in electrical engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles. He was commissioned as an officer through the ROTC program.

"Since the age of 12, Ali has wanted to fly F-15 fighter jets and serve our country," said his brother, Ibrahim, "and he accomplished this goal in the most honorable ways."

At Eglin, Jivanjee began flying the 32,000-pound F-15C tactical fighter, which can reach an altitude of 65,000 feet and hit speeds up to 1,875 mph. Many of the 522 fighters have been used extensively in the Middle East. The Air Force plans to phase out the F-15C for the new Lockheed Martin F-22.

Eglin officials say the base suspended flights for the weekend, but training exercises will resume Monday.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2008, 14:05:59 by CougarDaddy »
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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #38 on: March 11, 2008, 15:23:10 »
USAF wants money:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0311/p03s03-usmi.htm

Quote
In the Pentagon's emerging budget wars, the military service perceived to be playing one of the smallest roles in the war on terrorism now says it's in danger of breaking and needs billions of dollars more than the other services to stay whole.

The Air Force, after years of maintaining older airplanes without buying new ones, says it must be allowed to modernize or America risks losing air dominance around the world.

Five years of war in Iraq has worn down the ground forces and focused attention on the need to rebuild the Army and Marine Corps for those kinds of counterinsurgency operations. But the Air Force's campaign to publicize its own budgetary woes – and the military's drive to stay competitive against conventional enemies, such as China, which requires air power – are forcing Pentagon planners to make tough choices.

Although the Air Force's recent decision to award a contract to an American and French partnership for its next-generation air tanker has diverted attention, the bigger challenge for the service remains: convincing an American public and a wary Congress that it needs as much as $20 billion in additional funding each year over five years.

This year, for example, the Air Force is asking for $18 billion in "unfunded requirements." That's money the service seeks for new airplanes like the stealthy F-22 Raptor, which lists for about $143 million each. These are replacing the stock of F-15 Eagles, one of which broke apart over Missouri last fall.

"We've got an extraordinarily old fleet, the oldest we've had in the Air Force," [emphasis added] says Col. Richard Forester, a deputy chief at Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va...

The Air Force agreed to draw down its number of airmen in the hope that the savings would be returned to it in the form of funding for upgrades and new airplanes. But senior Air Force officials say they instead watched as the money was diverted to the Army and the Marine Corps as those two services grew larger. While they don't begrudge the increases of the other two, they say they're left trying to bandage their service as aircraft platforms age and the number of personnel decrease – at the same time that their missions worldwide have increased and fuel costs skyrocket.

It doesn't make sense, senior officials say, to fix old planes like the F-15 and not buy new ones like the F-22.

"If we focus solely on sustaining the Army and the Marine Corps, and constrain the Navy and Air Force to primarily extending the life of existing systems, we will find ourselves in a fight we can't win, and the Army and Marine Corps will lack the throw-weight to win without the Navy and Air Force at their side," [emphasis added] says one senior officer who asked not to be named due to the political nature of the debate... 

...the Air Force performs what all agree is a vital role, albeit as a "silent partner," carrying more than 600 tons of cargo each day and ferrying service members across combat zones and to and from the war theater [emphasis added]. It also performs tens of thousands of other airlift, refueling, and close-air support and precision-strike missions. Air Force officials like to point out that its aircraft have also been flying continuously over Iraq since 1990, when President Clinton began Operations Northern and Southern Watch. Officers worry that much of this gets forgotten in the current debate...

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #39 on: March 25, 2008, 23:18:39 »
Louvre website

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #40 on: April 21, 2008, 15:07:44 »
Interesting.

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/04/dod-procurement.html

Quote
Senior blue-suited officials have argued the air service could transition funds in its fiscal year 2009 budget plan tagged to shut down the F-22A line into additional Raptor buys. The Air Force has $116 million set aside in the FY-09 blueprint to shutter the fighter's production line.

However, DOD acquisition czar John Young said today that the Air Force would be better served by nixing plans to stretch the fighter's production past the department's 183-plane cap, and funnel those dollars into upgrading the F-22As the service is already slated to get.

“There has been a fair amount of study work here that says 183 F-22As are an adequate number of airplanes,” Young said during today's briefing at the Pentagon. “Beyond that, the Air Force, I think, has some challenges that need to be addressed.”

The first 100-plane tranche of “Increment 1” Raptors will be baseline models of the fifth-generation fighter, while the remaining 83 jets will be advanced “Increment 3” versions of the Raptor, Young said.

“So 100 planes right now are planning to be less-capable planes, and the Air Force does not intend to upgrade those planes [and] there is at least $2.3 billion in the budget right now to create these Increment 3 [planes],” Young said.

“If we had additional dollars in the defense budget, I think they should be spent to improve the capabilities of those first 100 F-22As so all F-22As are the most capable,” he added.
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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #41 on: September 11, 2008, 08:52:39 »
Round and round they go:

Pentagon halts bitter Air Force tanker competition in setback for Northrop Grumman
Defense Secretary Robert Gates cancels a lengthy contest that had been marked by scandal. The decision gives new life to an effort by Boeing, which had been expected to lose to Northrop.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tankers11-2008sep11,0,5014015.story?track=ntothtml

Quote
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Wednesday canceled a bitter competition to build a new fleet of Air Force refueling tankers, saying the contest had become so acrimonious that picking a winner was impossible before President Bush leaves office.

The unexpected action is the latest setback for the star-crossed $35-billion program, which now has had its selection process started and stopped three times over the last five years.

The move will leave a decision on how to restart the 179-plane program to a new presidential administration, delaying delivery of the much-needed new tanker as much as another year. The Air Force first awarded a contract to build the replacements shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The decision to scrap the competition is a particularly tough blow for Century City-based Northrop Grumman Corp., which beat Boeing Co. in the most recent contest and was widely expected to have that victory confirmed in the follow-up competition that Gates canceled.

"We are extremely disappointed at the decision to terminate the current tanker competition, especially on behalf of our men and women in uniform who will now be denied a critically needed new tanker for years," Northrop spokesman Randy Belote said.

Northrop has said the contract award would create more than 7,500 jobs for California's struggling aerospace industry, even though the planes would be assembled in Alabama.

Boeing had been pushing for a four-month delay to completely overhaul its bid, and it said in a statement that it welcomed Gates' decision, which would allow for a "thorough and open competition" in the future.

The move gives Boeing new life in one of the last remaining large-scale weapons contracts of its generation, said Richard Aboulafia, an aircraft expert at Teal Group Corp., an aerospace and defense analysis firm. "It sure beats the sudden death they were facing with the existing plan."

The cancellation comes after two months of disarray following a July ruling by government auditors that the Air Force mishandled the selection process that chose Northrop, which was proposing to build its tanker from an Airbus A330 commercial airliner.

In the wake of the Government Accountability Office ruling, Gates took responsibility for the competition away from the Air Force and vowed to run it out of his own office, saying he believed it could be completed by the end of the year.

But Pentagon officials have in recent weeks grown increasingly concerned that Boeing, which has been aggressively pressing its case on Capitol Hill, was about to launch a legal challenge to the Pentagon's revised competition rules, which were due out in a matter of days.

The threat appears to have been part of what convinced Gates that a "cooling-off" period was needed...

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Offline S.M.A.

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #42 on: January 18, 2009, 21:56:29 »
Just another update for this thread:

Quote
Boeing, Lockheed Martin seek to save F-22 fighter program
Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle) - by Steve Wilhelm Staff Writer

http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2009/01/19/story3.html?b=1232341200^1762605

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are pouring money into a publicity campaign to maintain funding for the F-22 Raptor, worried the fighter-plane program may be on the chopping block of the Obama administration.

On the line locally are 1,200 Boeing jobs, which could be lost in three years if current Raptor funding isn’t supplemented.

While the raptor is considered a Lockheed Martin aircraft, the wings and aft fuselage are made in Boeing’s legendary 9101 building on East Marginal Way. The avionics and software are integrated nearby, in the 908 building.

Terminating production might spell the end of an important local Boeing legacy of building high-technology military aircraft in the high-security buildings.

Widely acknowledged as the most capable fighter aircraft in the world, the $150 million F-22 has been under fire for years for bleeding away money needed elsewhere. The Bush administration wanted to kill it, but was overruled by Congress and by the U.S. Air Force, which wanted more of the aircraft.

The Air Force originally wanted 750, but now is hoping for a fleet of 243, said Boeing spokesman Doug Cantwell. Currently, 183 aircraft have been funded and 134 produced. The immediate issue is whether another 20 will be funded, to bring the total funded up to 203, Cantwell said.

The publicity campaign, focused on policymakers in Washington, D.C., includes print ads in policy journals, radio spots and even billboards in Metro stations, Cantwell said.

He said he didn’t know the cost of the campaign nor Boeing’s share. He said Boeing contributes about one-third of the value of the F-22 program.

“We are major partners with Lockheed Martin and (engine maker) Pratt & Whitney, and as such we pay a chunk of the advertising bill every year,” he said.

The F-22 issue is widely regarded as one of the first tough military procurement questions that Barack Obama will face as president.

While the aircraft is very stealthy and can cruise at supersonic speeds, its high cost has raised questions about whether it’s the proper allocation of increasingly limited government resources, especially in a recession.

“The plane flies, there’s no question about that, but is it a Cold War weapon, is it a weapon we need to deal with terrorism, or what?” said Philip Coyle, senior adviser for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Defense Information.

“Obama has a reputation as being ruthlessly pragmatic. He’ll do the right thing, but he’s very pragmatic about it,” Coyle said.

The aircraft was targeted in a Dec. 21 New York Times editorial, which said that the government could save $3 billion a year by terminating the Raptor. The editorial also listed other high-tech weapons systems to cut, including the Zumwalt-class destroyer, the Virginia Class sub, and the V-22 Osprey (also built by Boeing, but not in Washington). Money saved from these should be put into more ground troops, more shallow-draft Navy ships, and supplies for the National Guard, the editorial said.

The Boeing-Lockheed Martin ad campaign also is playing on the recession, saying that the program employs 25,000 people in 44 states, with more than twice that working for suppliers, Cantwell said.

While current orders would take until 2012 to complete, the deadline is actually much closer because some titanium parts need to be ordered 36 months in advance, he said.

An article supporting the F-22 and published by the conservative Lexington Institute gave an even higher number, contending that upward of 100,000 jobs are supported by F-22. The writer, Loren Thompson, said that the contract should be continued because it benefits the economy, maintains critical U.S. technology skills and will maintain future air superiority.


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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #43 on: April 23, 2009, 15:23:21 »
Heat for head of USAF:

Gates drops ball on U.S. Air Force needs
http://www.upi.com/Security_Industry/2009/04/21/Gates-drops-ball-on-US-Air-Force-needs/UPI-25371240328455/

Quote
Gen. Norton Schwartz, the U.S. Air Force chief of staff, faced biting criticism from his service's senior leaders in a video teleconference last week.

They accused him of betraying the service's requirements process by siding with Defense Secretary Robert Gates in terminating key airpower programs without rigorous analysis and signaled that Schwartz's credibility is at risk among his Air Force peers.

Doubts about Schwartz have been rife since Gates selected him to replace the less pliable Gen. T. Michael Moseley last summer after Moseley clashed with Gates over the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor fighter and management of nuclear weapons. A look at Gates's plans for Air Force programs shows why Schwartz's tenure could resemble a controlled flight into terrain.

Airlifters. Gates wants to end production of the only long-range airlifter currently being built, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster, at 205 planes. That number is the low end of a fleet mix recommended in the 2005 Mobility Capability Study, adjusted to compensate for a later decision to forgo putting new engines on most older Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy transports. The C-17 and C-5 are the only long-range jet transports in the joint fleet, and under the Gates plan that fleet would be capped at about 315 planes.

But a U.S. Government Accountability Office report found the 2005 study probably underestimated future mobility needs. Also, Gates is increasing the size of ground forces that would use airlifters by 92,000 personnel while expanding operations in Africa. Nonetheless, he decided to terminate the C-17 without completing a new mobility study.

Fighters. Gates proposes to end the F-22 fighter program at 187 planes while sticking with plans to buy 2,443 less-pricey Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters -- about 1,800 of which would go to the Air Force.

But the two planes were designed to operate together, with the F-22 providing air dominance and the F-35 focusing on ground attacks. The F-35 lacks features such as vectored thrust and fuel-conserving super-cruise, so it is not as capable in combating enemy defenses.

Ten years ago Defense Secretary William Cohen wrote, "The F-22 will enable the Joint Strike Fighter to carry out its primary strike mission. The JSF was not designed for the air-superiority mission." Neither Gates nor Schwartz has explained how this division of labor can work while ending F-22 production far below stated requirements.

Bombers. The war-winning potential of long-range bombers was the original rationale for an independent air force, and today the U.S. Air Force still has a sizable fleet of heavy bombers. But Gates said on April 6, "We will not pursue a development program for a follow-on Air Force bomber until we have a better understanding of the need, the requirement and the technology."

Money set aside for a future bomber has been taken for other purposes, leaving the service with a decrepit fleet of 160 Cold War bombers. Only a handful of these planes -- the stealthy Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirits -- are likely to survive a prolonged encounter with modern air defenses.

Tankers. The Air Force has been trying since the 21st century began to modernize the aerial refueling tankers that make it possible for U.S. airlifters, fighters and bombers to operate in remote places like Afghanistan, and Gates has stood by plans to develop a new tanker. That is good because most of the planes in the aerial refueling fleet are approaching half a century of age.

But even on tankers, it isn't so clear Gates knows what he's doing. He says he will lay his body "across the tracks" to prevent Congress from splitting production between two teams because it would cost too much -- ignoring the fact that a dual award would replace aging tankers much faster and avoid billions of dollars in upkeep for the current fleet. Is it any wonder Schwartz is having a hard time explaining himself?

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #44 on: May 08, 2009, 09:27:08 »
Yet another update:

http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,190484,00.html

Quote
USAF 2010 Request Lacks Major New Initiatives
Aviation Week's DTI | Amy Butler | May 07, 2009
This article first appeared in AviationWeek.com.

The U.S. Air Force's $160.5 billion Fiscal 2010 budget request is notable more for what is absent, compared with the tradition of including a bevy of new projects.

Along with the end of C-17 and F-22 production, the Air Force budget includes only two new starts -- $439 million to begin another competition to replace KC-135 aerial refuelers, as expected, and $9.5 million in seed money to begin the Common Vertical Lift Support Program (CVLSP). This will replace aging UH-1N Hueys used by Air Force Space Command for aerial support to nuclear weapons convoys and some executive lift operated out of Andrews Air Force Base, Md.


The service's baseline Fiscal 2010 top-line falls just under total Fiscal 2009 allocation of $161.4 billion, although the latter includes war supplemental funds. The service further expects to get about $16 billion more in supplemental war spending in Fiscal 2010. Growth in what the Air Force calls its "blue" topline, or discretionary funding, is about $2 billion over Fiscal 2009, which falls short of inflation, says Patricia Zarodkiewicz, deputy budget director for the service.

In past years, the USAF intentionally short-changed infrastructure and personnel accounts to pay for modernization programs, mainly the F-22 and C-17. Next fiscal year, however, the service is requesting $91 million to shut down the Long Beach, Calif., C-17 line (the balance would come later once international orders cease). Another $64 million is needed to dismantle the Marietta, Ga., F-22 line.

A decision has not yet been made on whether to maintain some F-22 tooling in a "warm" status or to fully close production, Zarodkiewicz says.


In Fiscal 2010, installations maintenance accounts are supposedly short by about $2 billion, and repair and sustainment funds are short by about $800 million. However, Zarodkiewicz says, the service's budget is "well balanced" this year with hefty needs to end a string of personnel cuts, with a force level of 331,700 airmen planned in Fiscal 2010 and another 1,000 in Fiscal 2011.

Also emphasized in the request are funds for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft and accounts that support nuclear activities. The latter was required after a series of mishaps in the service's handling of nuclear weapons. Zarodkiewicz says the Fiscal 2010 request includes about $900 million in requests for ISR systems, including new sensors.

Most major Fiscal 2010 shifts -- including delaying a new Combat Search and Rescue-X (CSAR-X) procurement and next-generation bomber competition -- were announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates April 6.

Stunting CSAR-X is forcing the service to buy two H-60Ms, the variant used by the U.S. Army, to add to 95 HH-60G Pave Hawks now in service. Specialized mission systems will be added later so that they are optimized for the CSAR mission, Zarodkiewicz says.


The Air Force also will assume oversight of the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program, now led by the Army, during Fiscal 2010 though the details are not yet sorted out. The service plans to buy eight of those C-27J aircraft, built by L-3 Communications/Alenia North America in Fiscal 2010.

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F22 maintenance costs rising
« Reply #45 on: July 10, 2009, 14:26:05 »
An update with the F22:

Quote
Premier U.S. Fighter Jet Has Major Shortcomings

The U.S.’s top fighter jet, the Lockheed Martin F-22, has recently required more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the skies, pushing its hourly cost of flying to more than $44,000, a far higher figure than for the warplane it replaces, confidential Pentagon test results show.
The aircraft's radar-absorbing metallic skin is the principal cause of its maintenance troubles, with unexpected shortcomings — such as vulnerability to rain and other abrasion — challenging Air Force and contractor technicians since the mid-1990s, according to Pentagon officials, internal documents and a former engineer.
While most aircraft fleets become easier and less costly to repair as they mature, key maintenance trends for the F-22 have been negative, and on average from October last year to this May just 55 percent of the deployed F-22 fleet has been available to fulfill missions guarding U.S. airspace.
The troubles with the nation's foremost air-defense fighter are emerging amid a fight between the Obama administration and Congress over whether the program should be halted next year at 187 planes, far short of what the Air Force and the F-22's contractors around the country had anticipated.
(Washington Post, July 10, 2009, Pg. 1)
 
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"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves."   - Lao Zi (老子)
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"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
- Winston Churchill

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Re: F22 maintenance costs rising
« Reply #46 on: July 10, 2009, 14:45:58 »
Quote
more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the skies

I cringe every time the media makes a statement like this. That is a falacy often repeated and used here in Canada when talking about the Sea King. "30 man-hours" is most likely more representative of the truth.

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #47 on: July 10, 2009, 15:44:37 »
Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #48 on: July 13, 2009, 19:44:42 »
Another major update:

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4185286&c=AME&s=AIR

Quote
U.S. Defense Budget Faces Veto if F-22 Isn't Cut
By rick maze
Published: 13 Jul 2009 14:38 

U.S. President Barack Obama and top defense officials warned July 13 that the 2010 defense budget will be vetoed unless Congress kills further purchases of the F-22 aircraft.

Continuing to procure more of the fighters is taking money away from more pressing needs, Obama said in a letter as the Senate begins debating S 1390, the 2010 defense authorization act.

The bill includes about $1.75 billion for the purchase of seven more F-22s that the Pentagon says it does not want or need.


Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, in their own letter to Congress, said continuing to spend money beyond 2009 on the F-22 would come "at the expense of other Air Force and defense programs."

The letters were read on the Senate floor by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, who said the $1.75 billion being spent on the F-22 was taken from military personnel and operations and maintenance accounts, including accounts to cover the cost of active-duty bonuses and support and from the civilian payroll account.

Money also was "found" through an assumption that the military will be able to save money starting next year by reforming defense acquisition policies.

"Each of these places cannot afford these cuts," Levin said, noting in particular that overhauling rules on weapons-buying could end up costing money in the short term rather than providing savings.

"Major savings, which we think will come, are not going to happen in the short term," he said.


Levin said cutting uniformed and civilian personnel accounts would be a mistake, and likely would force the Pentagon to come back later for extra money to cover expenses.

Levin and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the armed services committee's ranking Republican, support the Pentagon's view that 187 F-22s are enough. As Senate debate began July 13 on the bill, the first amendment under consideration is to cancel additional F-22 purchases.

"At some point, we have to come to the logical conclusion that a weapons system has come to an end," Levin said.

This will be the first of many tests to see whether Congress is willing to terminate or reduce weapons programs. In this case, with contracts for F-22 pieces spread over 40 states, job protection in a weak economy is a major factor.

McCain said the votes "are not there" to kill the F-22, and that he hopes Obama's letter "has a significant impact."

Debate on the defense bill is expected to extend through early next week, with more than 300 amendments anticipated.
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Re: USAF Woes
« Reply #49 on: July 14, 2009, 17:51:15 »
Yet another update on the ordeal of the F22.

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4187281&c=AME&s=AIR

Quote
Senate F-22 Foes Outnumbered But Still Fighting
By william matthews
Published: 14 Jul 2009 16:15

For now, the Senate opponents of the F-22 don't have the votes to kill the costly stealth fighter. But they're still working on it.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., tried out a new argument July 13 and 14 as they strove to convince colleagues to support their amendment to remove $1.75 billion and seven F-22s from the 2010 defense budget.

"This debate is not about depriving the Air Force" of aircraft it needs, McCain said. It's about ensuring that the Marine Corps and Navy also get the fifth-generation fighters by keeping the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program on track, he said July 14.


McCain was echoing a theme that Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services, had rolled out the day before: "The F-35 is a system which all of the services need," Levin said. It's better at electronic warfare than the F-22 and it is half a generation more advanced, he said. To ensure that F-35s begin arriving on time in the Marine Corps and Navy, "we have to at some point say that we have enough F-22s," he said.

McCain said if the F-35 program stays on schedule, the Marine Corps should have the new fighters in 2012, the Air Force in 2013 and the Navy in 2015.
Levin bolstered his argument against buying more F-22s by reading from a letter he received July 13 from President Barack Obama in which the president said, "We do not need these planes. That is why I will veto any bill that supports acquisition of F-22s beyond the 187 already funded by Congress."

Obama said that buying more F-22s "would be a waste of valuable resources" that should be spent instead "to provide our troops with the weapons that they actually do need."

The veto promise put a sharper edge on a threat by senior White House advisers in June to "recommend a veto."

Levin also read from a letter written by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They warned that, "If the Air Force is forced to buy additional F-22s ... it will come at the expense of other Air Force and Department of Defense priorities, and require deferring capabilities in areas we believe are much more critical to our nation's defense."

How effective McCain and Levin's arguments are may be known July 15, when a vote on the amendment to kill the F-22 is tentatively expected.


"This is probably the closest vote we've seen," said Mandy Smithberger of the Project on Government Oversight. A survey of Senate members July 13 showed that 23 support McCain and Levin's effort to end the F-22 program; 45 oppose it; and 32 were undecided.

F-22 supporters, led by Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., were working July 14 to round up enough votes to override an Obama veto, Smithberger said. F-22s are assembled in Chambliss' state.

However, the veto threat from Obama may be convincing some senators to support cutting F-22s from the budget, she said.

Chambliss struck back at McCain and Levin in an afternoon Senate speech July 14.

Although Gates wants to halt F-22 production now, it was Gates that kept the program alive a year ago, he said. While he was defense secretary during the Bush administration, Gates agreed to buy four more planes so the next administration could decide the plane's fate, Chambliss said.


It is the Obama administration that wants "to terminate the best tactical airplane in the world," he said.

Chambliss also stressed that Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz has stated that 243 F-22s is the military requirement, that 187 is a "moderate to high risk," but that the additional planes are "simply unaffordable."

The chief of the Air Force Air Combat Command, Gen. John Corley said 381 F-22s is the required number, and that ending the program at 187 is a "high risk."


McCain reminded his colleagues that the Defense Department wants to focus on increasing its capabilities for irregular warfare, "and the F-22 is not part of that." The plane, which was designed in the 1980s to battle Soviet fighters over Europe, "has limited air-to-ground capability," making it of little use for counter-insurgency operations, McCain said. Indeed, the United States is fighting two wars, "and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater," McCain said.

Levin stressed that the decision to end F-22 production was not a new initiative by the Democratic Obama administration, but dates to 2004 when George W. Bush was president and Donald Rumsfeld was secretary of defense.

F-22 supporters have been busily rounding up allies, including Air National Guard generals.


At the request of Chambliss, Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt, director of the Air Guard, wrote that F-22 would be useful for protecting the United States against launched cruise missiles.

"That threat is simply not present today," McCain said, and if it does emerge, the most effective counter might be unmanned aerial vehicles.

Much of the support for the F-22 is due to the jobs it creates.

According to the Defense Department, about 25,000 workers are employed by the F-22 program. According to Lockheed, another 90,000 jobs receive some support, but may not be fully dependent on the F-22.

Ending F-22 production "will lead to loss of jobs in certain states," McCain conceded. "But the F-35 will be a job creator."

Gates has said that as F-35 production picks up, employment will increase from 38,000 people today to 64,000 in 2010 and 82,000 in 2011.

The F-35 costs $100 million per plane
, according to the Government Accountability Office. F-22s costs about $360 million apiece. Both figures include development costs.
Our Country
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"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves."   - Lao Zi (老子)
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"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
- Winston Churchill