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A Quick Fix for the Hollow Air Force

September 24, 2008

I will get right to the Fix considering we have discussed numerous times the rapidly aging and worn out equipment of the USAF. With the F-15E Strike Eagle still in production for our allies, I call for an emergency purchase of 200 to replace the entire F-15 fleet, most of which date from the 1970s and 80s. The beauty of the F-15E is it is a bomber with few peers and can also defend itself like a fighter.

Next, an immediate purchase of 500 late model F-16 Falcons will replace well-worn close support like the A-10 and older F-16s, which as the Eagles all date from the Reagan era buildup or sooner. Ground attack aircraft planes are crucial for our ongoing wars in the Middle East and for decades the Falcon has proved itself to be affordable and well respected by allies and foes alike.

While we figure the F-16 not a perfect replacement for the superb A-10 attack jet, sadly this workhorse is no longer in production.

For the clincher, I submit that the USAF could carry out the entire refurbishing of our ancient aerial armada at no cost to themselves or the taxpayer. This would transpire by selling off our entire underused fleet of about 200 F-22 Raptor fighters to our allies, notably Israel, Australia, and Japan. Thats right. (A brief pause while you catch your breath)

(We continue now with the explanation of my out of the box proposal) Why should America give up the apparent advantage it possesses with this super-secret and stealthy super cruise capable jet, you ask? Because a nation which depends so much on her friends as the US should harbor as few secrets from them as possible, if we expect them to remain our friends. Allies have historically depended on the best American equipment such as planes, tanks, and even warships to defend themselves from the same enemies that threaten us. All these nations mentioned have expressed interest in the Raptor and all are close to many of the world’s hotspots, so much that we can consider them our “first line of defense” in many cases.

If the type of arms the US is currently building are too secretive to sell to our friends, perhaps they shouldn’t be built at all. A friend and ally must be considered far more valuable than any top secret program which the military loves to indulge in. The only exception might be atomic secrets, but even this rule has been bent on occasion when we have sold nuke capable missiles to Britain.

Discarding the extremely costly F-22 would bring an added benefit to the aging Air Force. Instead of concerning themselves constantly with the need to update its fighter force with platforms that take decades to produce and individually are costing the price of a naval frigate, they could concentrate instead on new Digital Age equipment especially designed for 4th Generation Warfare, the kind of conflict we are fighting today. These would include smart bombs and missiles, advanced sensors, and unmanned vehicles. New combat UAVs could fight side-by-side with the older F-15 and F-16s, as they are doing already, until the new weapons are proven in combat and adequate numbers to give rise to a new, wholly unmanned Air Force.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. charbookguy permalink
    September 25, 2008 9:52 am

    Hope you guys don’t mind if I answer your posts on this single one:

    “Tread softly”-near the end of the Cold war we were coming up with interesting upgrades like vector thrust which might have greatly enhanced our present aerial force without the budget breaking development costs of the Raptor. An opportunity lost. And don’t worry about the spelling, no editors here! (else I’d been booted off long ago)

    Purple slog-thanks for the nice comment and like you and Descorp I would love to see the essential A-10 back in production, and the B-52 also! Another opportunity lost was the F-16XL which was cheaper than the F-15E, the latter that was prematurly cancelled by then SecDef Cheney for the high cost.

    Distiller-I think you and I will have to agree to disagree. What exactly to you mean by “next-war”? Do you mean the kind of wars we wish to fight or the ones we find ourselves most often fighting, which is the long-hard slugfest with elusive and determined Third World adversaries? As we have seen in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan, these poorly armed and equipped Third World adversaries can stand up to the best equipment we used to win the Cold War. Due to the break up of the old world system in the 1900s, including the European first and later the Soviet empires, we are having more smaller wars rather than a few big wars. We have to have plenty of weapons which can be built quickly and replaced easily. Tanks, fighters and warships which take decades to get into service and are bought in fewer and fewer numbers just won’t cut it, not even for the kind of old style conventional war you advocate.

    Thankfully new precision arms are showing us the way out of our procurement crisis. They don’t need a super-hi-tech platform to take them to war, they just need a ride. This is why I am for buying more of these older and cheaper planes like the Eagle, Falcon, and yes the Warthog, which have been fighting and winning all our wars for decades.

  2. DesScorp permalink
    September 24, 2008 6:57 pm

    Frankly, I think we should put the A-10 back into production.

    While we’re at it, have a second look at doing the F-16XL, which would have been both a better strike aircraft, and better air superiority fighter than the baseline model.

  3. Distiller permalink
    September 24, 2008 4:40 pm

    For that colonial warfare going on you don’t need more than A-10s and MQ-9s, and you might as well burn up these AV-8 the Marines fly.
    And you see – I don’t say go F-22 and F-35 all the way. That’s why the Super Hornet is on the list.

    I suffer from a severe case of next-war-itis. I don’t really care about the these desert bandits when it comes to NavAir and AF. With tactical aircraft lead times measured in decades instead of years the U.S. can’t afford to plan for current wars.

    I mean what’s wrong here? Everybody always says ‘don’t plan for the last war’. Well, looks like Gates wants to do exactly that. Procurement decisions for legacy equipment become effective in 3-5+ years only. And what then? 5 years lost, cause I bet the priorities will have changed 180 degree by then. And I also bet we’ll see *drastic* budget cuts by then and if we don’t get the new stuff online *now*, we might well never.

    The most important thing now is to modernize and then stabilize the force.

  4. September 24, 2008 3:48 pm

    This is an interesting out-of-the-box idea with much merit.

    I am no friend of the F-22. I like your ideas. I would change one thing. I would resume production of a updated Warthog.

  5. tread_softly_carry_big_stick permalink
    September 24, 2008 3:17 pm

    wow sry for the lack of proper English!

  6. tread_softly_carry_big_stick permalink
    September 24, 2008 3:15 pm

    *sell all but 50 f-22 (homeland defense)
    *develop upgrade for f-15 with vector thrust (maybe super cruise if possible) this will give are new F-15s close to same capabilities as f-22 just no expensive stealth.
    *hell give the Israel the plans for the A-10 and have them make it and buy from them. they would love to have them.

  7. charbookguy permalink
    September 24, 2008 2:45 pm

    I’ll agree with all you said as soon as Al Qaeda builds an air force. The point is to build the cheapest platforms possible to give new smart weapons a ride to work. Building hi-tech planes to launch hi-tech weapons is what is killing the defense budget, and also extremely redundant. Its like putting sails on steam powered battleships, still clinging to the past.

  8. Distiller permalink
    September 24, 2008 9:23 am

    For Tac Air:
    # Build another 150 F-22. Evolve and call B. And then keep building at minimum rate to keep the fleet young.
    # Build only carrier-capable F-35, build double-seater.
    # Build Super Hornets for NavAir and AF till F-35 is available.
    # Build J-UCAS and all kind of modern UCAVs.
    Selling those F-22 is an idea, but only works with an evolutionized F-35.
    No use building old F-15 and F-16.


  1. Buy New Build F-16s « New Wars
  2. Interesting idea for an affordable 4GW oriented Air Force… « PurpleSlog

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