Defense Issues

Military and general security

Posts Tagged ‘USAF’

Mush for Brains –How Putin Sees America

Posted by picard578 on November 16, 2015

Bryen's Blog News

by Stephen Bryen

I am not a Kremlinologist, and Kremlinology sort of went out of fashion with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But I always enjoyed the speculation that Kremlin-watchers were so good at. Who lined up on top of the reviewing stand in Red Square during military parades; who was missing; who said what to whom? These and countless other outward signs were diagnosed and re-diagnosed ad nauseam, but sometimes the Kremlin-watchers got it right.

Should we be doing that again now? There is clearly something big going on in Russia. Is Putin listening to the hard-line faction, or is he (or was he) trying to promote a different option?

Putin took himself to New York not just to tell the UN what he intended to do in Syria, but more importantly to make a case to Obama about what both of them should do. Obama rejected Putin’s…

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News: USAF rules out international A-10 sales

Posted by picard578 on July 24, 2015

USAF has decided not to sell the A-10 to its allies.

Why this decision? Because selling the A-10 would run contrary to everything USAF was and is saying. USAF has for years, and against all evidence, maintained that the A-10 is unsurvivable and that fast jets can and will do its job – close air support – just as well if not better. Further, selling the A-10 would reduce – however slightly – prospects for F-35 sales. F-35 is primarily a ground attack aircraft, while A-10 does nothing but ground attack, and thus two are competitors. A-10 can also be easily maintained by countries they get sold to, which means no profits for Lockheed Martin and co. from lucrative maintenance contracts.

As it stands, greed and low selfishness will kill the A-10. USAF has no interest in close air support, and it seems that it will finally manage to get rid of the mission alltogether.

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USAF A-10 logic

Posted by picard578 on April 1, 2015

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Aircraft costs 2013-2015

Posted by picard578 on July 26, 2014


NOTE: Since spending does not include R&D or any associated equipment, it is a good indication of actual aircraft cost.





EA-18G: 967.725.000 USD for 12 aircraft – 80.643.750 USD Read the rest of this entry »

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NATO air forces proposal

Posted by picard578 on February 22, 2014

Current state

As of fall of 2013, NATO member states were Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.

Air forces were as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

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US military proposal

Posted by picard578 on September 21, 2013


Current state

Currently, United States have 8.725 M1 Abrams MBTs. At unit cost of 8,6 million USD, this gives total expenditure of 75 billion USD for MBT force.

As for APCs, there are 6.000 M113s costing 1,8 billion USD, 6.724 M2s costing 12,1 billion USD, and 4.187 Strykers costing 20,5 billion USD, for a total of 16.911 APCs costing 34,4 billion USD.

Infantry anti-tank weapons are as following: FGM-148 Javelin, reusable top-attack AT missile costing 164.000 USD for launcher and 100.000 USD for each missile (in FY 2013 USD, according to Wikipedia); BGM-71 TOW, with each missile costing 50.000 USD; AT-4, a single-shot unguided AT rocket launcher costing 1.480 USD.


Main Battle Tank will be diesel-powered, no heavier than 60 metric tons with range of 400-700 kilometers. It will have 120 mm smoothbore cannon but main purpose will be breaking through enemy lines and encircling the enemy or destroying enemy supply lines. Cannon will use tungsten and HE rounds (against armored and soft-skinned vehicles, respectively), and armor will also contain tungsten layer(s). It will cost no more than 6.000.000 USD.

Light tank will also be diesel-powered but will weight no more than 30 metric tons. Range will be at least 800 kilometers, and it will use 105 mm rifled cannon. It will exploit breakthroughts achieved by MBTs and destroy enemy supply lines; armor will be RHA with possibility of adding composite and/or tungsten panels to the outside, making repairs far easier. Cost will be no more than 2.500.000 USD.

APC Read the rest of this entry »

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Quick solution to USAF downwards spiral

Posted by picard578 on March 3, 2013


US aircraft procurement is on obvious downwards spiral – huge increases in spending have resulted in equally huge decreases in procurement. Most numerous tactical aircraft in US service is still F-16, and is likely to remain so for next few decades. This is my solution.

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On AviationIntel F-22 vs Typhoon article

Posted by picard578 on November 24, 2012


While author is indeed correct that training sorties do not necessarily mean that one type of aircraft is superior, multiple sorties can, when analyzed properly and assuming that setup is known, provide some information about respective fighter’s capabilities.

Huge control surfaces and thrust vectoring are useful for high-altitude and low-speed maneuvers, not in types of maneuvers required for close-in combat (transsonic low-altitude maneuvers). In fact, thrust vectoring is dangerous as it bleeds off energy, leaving fighter defenseless if it does not manage to get a kill immediately upon using it Secondly, German Typhoons in the exercise had no helmet-mounted sights, and as such had to point nose at F-22s to get a lock.

Modern radar warners, such as those carried by the Typhoons, are very capable of detecting even newest LPI radars. In any scenario where IRST-less Typhoon and F-22 went against each other with no AWACS support, both sides would be limited to visual detection.

In the end, visual-range combat is more likely than not to be decisive between fully equipped 4,5-th/5-th generation aircraft. As such, while F-22 is a capable dogfighter, it cannot be counted on to have a major impact in a war due to high cost and low sortie rate.

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US looking to a new generation fighter

Posted by picard578 on November 10, 2012

Despite F-22 choking its pilots – issue that may not have been solved even now – and F-35 having more problems than all European armaments programmes put together, US Department of Defense has decided that work should begin on a new stealth aircraft. It is easy to understand why – with F-22 out of production, and F-35 facing massive cuts in orders, US military aviation giants – Lockheed Martin, and Boeing – are desperate to find a new cow to milk. Ever since General Dynamics and Northrop Grumann have stopped producing fighter aircraft, these two firms have had free rein of US aviation industry. That situation has resulted in averagely effective and cripplingly expensive F-22, and utterly ineffective but almost-as-expensive F-35.

That decision comes in face of proposed budgetary cuts, and may indeed be a way for armaments industry to make cuts irrelevant, by inducing cost overruns that will have to be paid by taxpayers. While it certainly is useful for keeping industry going, it is hard to see why next platform has to be LO or VLO, as neither F-22 or F-35 are more advanced or more useful than their European counterparts.

Contrary to the claims in the article, F-35 is anything but high-performance aircraft. It is low-performance fighter/bomber/AWACS mix that does many things, but none well. However, as F-35 has harmed defense industry of US alleged allies – in reality, occupied countries – only high-performance fighters in production in these countries are French Dassault Rafale and multinational Eurofighter Typhoon, latter of whom is suffering cuts due to budgetary reductions as well as US diplomatic pressure aimed at making room for low-performance gold-plated F-35 bomber.

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USAF force proposal

Posted by picard578 on October 30, 2012

Current USAF plan is to keep 187 F-22s, 254 F-15 C and 221 F-15E in service, replacing 716 A-10s and 2 154 F-16s with 1 763 F-35As.

Problem with that is multifold; first, large unit and maintenance costs. Per-unit cost of 304 million USD per aircraft, 197 million USD flyaway, and operating cost that will likely be around 48 800 USD per hour of flight,1 763 F-35s will cost 535,952 billion USD to procure. Operating costs for that fleet will be 86 034 400 USD per hour of flight.

187 F-22s in service have so far cost 79,475 billion USD to procure and upgrade (including fixes) and have total operating cost of 11 407 000 USD per hour – 61 000 USD per hour per aircraft. This means that combined F-22/F-35 fleet will cost 97 441 400 USD per hour of flight.

To compare with these costs, “ancient” F-16C that are now being replaced by F-35 have operating cost of 7 000 USD per hour of flight. F-15C costs 30 000 USD per hour of flight, F-15E costs 28 000 USD per hour of flight, A-10 costs 3 000 USD per hour of flight. Eurocanards cost 18 000 USD per hour of flight for Typhoon, 16 500 USD per hour of flight for Rafale and 4 700 USD per hour of flight for Gripen.

Maintenance downtime is 6,2 hours per hour of flight for A-10, 19 hours per hour of flight for F-16, 10 hours per hour of flight for Gripen, 9 hours of maintenance for Typhoon, 8 hours of maintenance per hour of flight for Rafale, 20 hours per hour of flight for F-15, 45 hours per hour of flight for F-22. (I wasn’t able to confirm Eurocanards’ maintenance downtime figures, however).

Thus, by using maintenance and flyaway costs, and ignoring R&D costs that have been sunk, we can break down costs of desired USAF fleet as:

187 F-22A: 46 750 000 000 USD price, 11 407 000 USD per hour of flight
254 F-15C: 10 820 400 000 USD price, 7 620 000 USD per hour of flight
221 F-15E: 9 757 592 000 USD price, 6 188 000 USD per hour of flight
1 763 F-35A: 347 311 000 000 USD price, 86 034 400 USD per hour of flight

For total of 414 638 992 000 USD, and costing 111 249 400 USD per hour of flight.

By using Desert Storm and current sortie rates (1 sortie / day for F-15, 1,2 for F-16, 0,3 for F-22, 1,4 for A-10), we see that F-22s will be able to fly 60 combat sorties per day, and F-15Es will be able to fly 221 combat sortie per day. F-15Cs will be able to fly 254 sorties per day. While I don’t know F-35’s maintenance downtime, it can be estimated that it will be able to fly 500 – 800 sorties per day. Thus above force will be able to sustain 2650 sorties per day.

Two fighters, F-22 and F-15C together cost 57 570 400 000 USD, and 19 027 000 USD per hour of flight. Strike-oriented F-15E and F-35A will together cost 357 068 592 000 USD and 92 222 400 USD per hour of flight.

Replacing F-22 and F-15C with F-15As gives 1 351 aircraft, costing 40 530 000 USD per hour of flight, and able to support around 1 400 sorties per day. Replacing F-15E and F-35A with F-16C gives 5 951 aircraft, costing 41 657 000 USD per hour of flight, and capable of supporting around 7 140 sorties per day. Better option would be 5 000 F-16C and 3 800 A-10, costing 357 billion USD to procure and 34 900 000 USD to maintain per hour of flight. 5 000 F-16C can support 6 000 sorties per day, and 3 800 A-10 can support 5 320 sorties per day.

Replacing F-22 and F-15C with Eurofighter Typhoon gives 480 aircraft, costing 8 640 000 USD per hour of flight, and able to support 1 152 sorties per day. Replacing F-15E and F-35A with Saab Gripen gives 5 951 aircraft, costing 27 969 700 USD per hour of flight, and able to support 13 092 sorties per day.

To sum up:

F-22A + F-15C + F-15E + F-35A = 2 425 aircraft and 2 650 sorties per day. Total procurement cost 415 billion USD, total maintenance cost per hour of flight 111 million USD.

F-15A + F-16C = 7 302 aircraft and 8 540 sorties per day. Total procurement cost 415 billion USD, total maintenance cost per hour of flight 82 million USD.

F-15A + F-16C + A-10: 9 851 aircraft and 12 720 sorties per day (7 400 sorties by air superiority-capable aircraft). Total procurement cost 415 billion USD, total maintenance cost per hour of flight 75 430 000 USD.

EF2000 + JAS-39C = 6 431 aircraft and 14 244 sorties per day. Total procurement cost 415 billion USD, total maintenance cost per hour of flight 37 million USD.

Thus either F-15A + F-16C or EF-2000 + JAS-39C option would be superior to an all-stealth option USAF is promoting in both cost and cost effectiveness area. Not only is large number of sorties per day required for establishing air superiority, it is also required for pilot training, which is one of most important things any air force must do; simulators are just that: simulators, and while they can simulate live training, they cannot replace it.

Meanwhile, stealth is overrated: during Kosovo War, stealth F-117s suffered greater number of casualties (1 aircraft shot down, 1 damaged and mission-killed but returned to base, never to fly again) than non-stealth F-16s (1 F-16 shot down), despite being “stealth”, and despite flying lower number of sorties – 1 300 sorties compared to 4 500 sorties for F-16. Final nail on the “stealth is required to cope with SAM’s” coffin is SAM effectiveness rate through war: 0,36 %. Even air-to-air BVR missiles have Pk in single-digit percentages against capable opponent – after lock-on is achieved, and assuming anyone even turns radar on. IRST + RWR – equipped aircraft can stay completely passive, leveling the playing field by forcing stealth aircraft to rely on IR sensors – where smaller, non-VLO aircraft will have advantage – or to radiate and give up its position; and air-to-air anti-radiation missiles, or BVR IR missiles coupled with cueing by aircraft’s defensive suite, can force everyone to rely on passive sensors only.

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