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Retire the C-5's?


Slater

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The flyaway cost might be that much, but since we're still early in the program, the total program unit cost is a more meaningful measure - and that's closer to $100 mill (~2500 aircraft for ~$250billion).

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Unit proc. cost (in millions of FY 2000 dollars)

F/A-18E/F

$70-74

 

F-22

$105-124

 

F-35A (Air Force)

$43-65

 

F-35B (Marine Corps)

$52-77

 

F-35C (Navy)

$53-78

 

Aircraft Age

Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps officials have pointed out that even if their tactical aircraft modernization programs are followed, the average age of their fighter forces will increase substantially over the next decade.

 

Specifically, the Air Force estimates that the average age of its fighter fleet will increase from about 12.5 years today to some 19.5 years in FY 2011 and then fall to about 18 years in FY 2015.

 

Similarly, the Navy and Marine Corps estimate that the average age of their fighter forces will increase from about 11.5 years today to 15 years in FY 2009 and then drop to 12.5 years in FY 2015.

 

http://www.csbaonline.org/4Publications/Archive/R.19990900.Options_for_US_Fig/R.19990900.Options_for_US_Fig.htm

 

The entire article is worth reading.

 

 

 

Nope, JASSMs are more like $400k. 

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Production unit cost $700,000

 

military.cz

 

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Program costs increased $887.6 million (+28.1%) from $3,163.2 million to $4,050.8 million.

 

pentagon.mi

 

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Undersecretary of Defense Mr Pete Aldridge gave the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) program the go-ahead for Low Rate Initial Production on 21 December 2001. This decision will give the Air Force combat capability on the F-16 and B-52 by 2003. This low-cost, high performance program came in below the objective unit cost of $400K in FY 95 dollars. As a result, the Air Force increased its buy from 2400 to 3700 missiles over 13 years. The Air Force plans to make the decision for full-rate production in late 2003. The Navy currently plans to purchase 450 JASSMs.

 

On 14 November 2002 the quarterly Selected Acquisition Report said JASSM had slipped nine months and that its cost had gone from about $3.12 billion to $3.16 billion, and increase of $43.6 million, or 1.4 percent. The December 2002 SAR, released in April 2003, reported that program costs increased $887.6 million (+28.1%) from $3,163.2 million to $4,050.8 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of 6 developmental test/operational test missiles for JASSM-Extended Range (ER) (+$6.8 million) and 640 procurement missiles (from 3700 to 4340 missiles) (+$433.0 million). There were also increases for JASSM-ER development and additional capability engine/fuel costs (+$438.6 million).

 

globalsecurity.org

 

$4,050.8 million divided by 4340 missiles = $933.36milllion per missile.

 

---

 

The Air Force requested $123 million in fiscal year 2002 for the procurement of 76 missiles.

 

nationaldefensemagazine.org

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1/2 scale B-2 UCAV?

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I wouldn't design it as a UCAV. Easier to convert a manned aircraft to U-bird than vice versa, and we'll need manned versions anyway until we have a lot more experience with autonomous vehicles.

 

The important thing about our MBX is that it has to be very affordable in front-end costs as well as back-end costs. Thus, need to use as much OTS hardware as possible. Like maybe 3 or 4 engines derived from the F119/F136 family, sans burner. Radar off the F-22 or F-35

 

Rather than a pure flying wing like the B-2, I'd look at a more conventional layout. Move all tankage to the wings, minimize fuselage volume consumption by the intake system, try to maximize weapons bay volume. Rather than gnat-scale RCS, I'd shoot for roughly the level of F-117s, and rely on decoy UAVs and SEAD to knock the risk to acceptable levels. In other words, to keep costs down aim for a survivability profile adequate to penetrate Aholestan without assistance, and ability to penetrate Russia/PRC/Luxembourg with assistance. Keep in mind that we had something like 76 FB-111s, and even with the increased uptime of a modern bird we'd still like at least 50 of them. That lets us put 25 in theater for a hot war with 25 in CONUS for 2nd front/counterpunch, or 10 in theater for two LICs and 30 back home for training and rotations. As the software develops, convert some to U format, maybe 10 airframes at a time.

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$4,050.8 million divided by 4340 missiles = $933.36milllion per missile.

 

You're quoting procurement costs in one case (the F-35) and program costs in the other (JASSM). Unfortunately, you have it backwards as to which is important for which program.

 

The JASSM is in production. Almost all of its dev costs are sunk. Therefore only procurement costs matter (plus any continuing development).

 

Procurement costs for ~4300 missiles is $2.5 billion, or around $580k each. (higher than my earlier $400k number but not out of the ballpark)

 

Plus your also talking about a mixture of JASSMs and JASSM-ERs in that 4300 number.

 

The F-35 is still in the early stages of design and development. Most of its R&D costs have yet to be spent. Therefore, program costs are more useful for spending decisions (minus dollars already sunk).

 

From GAO-5-271, (March 2005)

 

"Current estimates for the program acquisition unit cost are about $100

million, and the total estimated cost to own an aircraft over its life cycle is

$240 million—an increase of 23 percent and 11 percent, respectively."

 

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05271.pdf

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Forget about the F/FB/B this and that. You guys have the AF sexy go fast disease.

 

Subject is useful kit vs overpriced toys. AIRLIFT is needed in current war and the for the next war. And we are STILL short. Retire the C-5 rediculous. Retire the C-141s? WAY Premature but done. For deployment ops, we need cargo aircraft (big and "short" takeoff) with ramps not civilian cargo aircraft with a load floor 15ft off of the ground.

 

Anyone working with the new K loaders to load civilian/CRAF aircraft/KC10/etc? 747? They AF finally started purchasing new taller/heavier loaders. And retiring the old 20/40K. This solve the big problems of using widebodies?

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2020 is a long way off & that assumes there are no delays in the project.

 

Here's the USAF unmanned roadmap,

 

"The roadmap forecasts UASes supplementing or perhaps even replacing manned aircraft on the following mission timetable:

 

* 2005-10: Communication relay and SEAD (replacing the EA-6B jammer with the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System, or J-UCAS).

* 2010-15: Signals intelligence collection (Global Hawk), maritime patrol (the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance system), and penetrating strike (with J-UCAS).

* 2015-20: Aerial refueling and integrated SEAD/strike.

* 2020-25: Surveillance and battle management (replacing E-3 AWACS and E-8 Joint STARS) and counterair missions (replacing the Air Force F-15 and F-16 and Navy fighters).

* 2025-30: Airlift (replacing C-5, C-17, C-130) and integrated strike/SEAD/counterair (replacing Air Force F/A-22 and Navy F/A-18E/F)."

 

http://www.afa.org/magazine/Nov2005/1105armada.asp

 

Note, "penetrating strike" is in the same timeframe as the F-35.

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You're quoting procurement costs in one case (the F-35) and program costs in the other (JASSM).  Unfortunately, you have it backwards as to which is important for which program. 

 

The JASSM is in production.  Almost all of its dev costs are sunk.  Therefore only procurement costs matter (plus any continuing development). 

 

Procurement costs for ~4300 missiles is $2.5 billion, or around $580k each. (higher than my earlier $400k number but not out of the ballpark)

 

Plus your also talking about a mixture of JASSMs and JASSM-ERs in that 4300 number.

 

The F-35 is still in the early stages of design and development.  Most of its R&D costs have yet to be spent.  Therefore, program costs are more useful for spending decisions (minus dollars already sunk).

 

From GAO-5-271, (March 2005)

 

"Current estimates for the program acquisition unit cost are about $100

million, and the total estimated cost to own an aircraft over its life cycle is

$240 million—an increase of 23 percent and 11 percent, respectively."

 

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05271.pdf

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I see, it is OK for you to quote an old requirement per unit production cost for the JASSM (which you admit yourselve is now 45% higher than you quoted) but I can not use per unit production cost to compare the F-35 to your personal favorite F/A-18E/F & to show how much more expensive your "compromise" all F-35C is.

 

My post also showed that the USAF, USN & USMC will despirately need to replace old airframes with new ones by 2015 (if not sooner). Their plan is to start replacing these airframes with F-35s begining in 2012 (actually deliveries of F/A-22s have already begun).

 

Here are some of the additional cost of your more JASSM instead of F-35s idea.

1) You still will need new airframes to replace ones that have become worn out (the F/A-18E/F is more expensive that the F-35).

2) You need more tankers.

3) You need more fighter & other defense suppression support.

4) F-35s are reusable, but every JASSM fired would need to replaced by a new one.

5) You still have to pay a significant amount of money for the R&D (plus punitive damages) for the canceled F-35.

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Here's the USAF unmanned roadmap,

 

"The roadmap forecasts UASes supplementing or perhaps even replacing manned aircraft on the following mission timetable:

 

    * 2005-10: Communication relay and SEAD (replacing the EA-6B jammer with the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System, or J-UCAS).

    * 2010-15: Signals intelligence collection (Global Hawk), maritime patrol (the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance system), and penetrating strike (with J-UCAS).

    * 2015-20: Aerial refueling and integrated SEAD/strike.

    * 2020-25: Surveillance and battle management (replacing E-3 AWACS and E-8 Joint STARS) and counterair missions (replacing the Air Force F-15 and F-16 and Navy fighters).

    * 2025-30: Airlift (replacing C-5, C-17, C-130) and integrated strike/SEAD/counterair (replacing Air Force F/A-22 and Navy F/A-18E/F)."

 

http://www.afa.org/magazine/Nov2005/1105armada.asp

 

Note, "penetrating strike" is in the same timeframe as the F-35.

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Read the article & your own post again.

 

When are they replacing the Air Force F-15 and F-16 and Navy fighters?

 

Plus this is purely speculative. If there is one thing we do know (based on just about every other weapons system) this timetable is likely to slip by 5-10 years even if implemented.

 

While there is still a significant amount of development to be done on the F-35 (mostly red tape - if we were willing to take the risk, we could start building production F-35's today) none of these speculative CUAV has gotten off the drawing board & you (& others) are making a big leap of faith that they can be made to work as envisioned.

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Well, we have misappropriated this thread.

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Only because someone suggested canceling the F-35 so we could procure more transports. :P

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Whether transports, bombers or air supremecy, the use of UAVs to corresponds the the UGV in that none of the macho servcie specialties wishes to see them employed in their cherished branches...point of the bayonet, fighter or transport....but then, who will volunteer to be the first troop unit airlifted in by a UAV??

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I see, it is OK for you to quote an old requirement per unit production cost for the JASSM (which you admit yourselve is now 45% higher than you quoted) but I can not use per unit production cost to compare the F-35 to your personal favorite F/A-18E/F & to show how much more expensive your "compromise" all F-35C is.

 

The ONLY cost that matters when comparing two alternatives is how much it costs to finish a given production run. Quoting program costs for a system that is in production and has significant sunk development costs is foolish and misleading.

 

Sadly, I admit the JASSM is more expensive than I thought. I suspect the difference may be one of 'marginal' production cost vs. flyaway cost (it may cost $400k to make a JASSM from raw materials, but adding facilities, test equipment etc may drive the procurement/flyaway price up to $580k). Without knowing more details, it's difficult to tell.

 

OTOH, quoting program costs for a system that is in its early stages (the F-35) is more accurate, since only a fraction of the R&D costs have been sunk.

 

My post also showed that the USAF, USN & USMC will despirately need to replace old airframes with new ones by 2015 (if not sooner).  Their plan is to start replacing these airframes with F-35s begining in 2012 (actually deliveries of F/A-22s have already begun).

 

Some will need replacement. Some will never be replaced. The F-15 and F-117 fleets won't be 1-for-1 replaced with Raptors. Chances are, the F-16 and A-10 fleets won't be replaced 1-for-1 with F-35s either.

 

F-16Es could come off the production line immediately, once the UAE order is finished. No dev costs. You could probably buy two or three for the money yet to be spent on each F-35. Additional F/A-22s could continue off the production line after the original purchase - again with no additional R&D costs!

 

Here are some of the additional cost of your more JASSM instead of F-35s idea.

1) You still will need new airframes to replace ones that have become worn out (the F/A-18E/F is more expensive that the F-35).

 

Hardly. The F/A-18E is a mature system that is IN PRODUCTION. It's dev costs are SUNK!

 

The true costs of the F-35 won't be known for years. In any event, you can't buy an F-35 without paying for R&D, so any analysis of alternatives HAS to take this into account.

 

 

2) You need more tankers.

3) You need more fighter & other defense suppression support.

True.

4) F-35s are reusable, but every JASSM fired would need to replaced by a new one.

True.

 

Look, I'm not saying you'll get the same capability as an equivalent F-35 buy. Just that you can save a TON of money and still be able to do the majority of tasks required.

 

5) You still have to pay a significant amount of money for the R&D (plus punitive damages) for the canceled F-35.

 

How much? My guess is it's a drop in a 250 billion dollar bucket.

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The ONLY cost that matters when comparing two alternatives is how much it costs to finish a given production run.  Quoting program costs for a system that is in production and has significant sunk development costs is foolish and misleading.

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You still have to buy more airframes to launch your JASSM from (the majority of current airframes will by too costly to operate by 2015) & I gave a comparision of the F-35 (all three versions) to that of the F/A-18E/F since it has already been mentioned that additional F/A-18E/Fs could be procured in lue of F-35's.

 

 

 

OTOH, quoting program costs for a system that is in its early stages (the F-35) is more accurate, since only a fraction of the R&D costs have been sunk. 

Some will need replacement.  Some will never be replaced.  The F-15 and F-117 fleets won't be 1-for-1 replaced with Raptors.  Chances are, the F-16 and A-10 fleets won't be replaced 1-for-1 with F-35s either.

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Nobody realisticly thinks you can replace existing aircraft with F/A-22 & F-35 (interesting that the F-35 has not become the F/A-35 especially since it will be used primarily as an attack aircraft with a secondary "fighter" capability & the F/A-22 will be the opposite) on a 1-to-1 basis.

 

Looks like a 1-to-4 basis might be possible though but not if you cancel the F-35.

 

 

 

Sadly, I admit the JASSM is more expensive than I thought. I suspect the difference may be one of 'marginal' production cost vs. flyaway cost (it may cost $400k to make a JASSM from raw materials, but adding facilities, test equipment etc may drive the procurement/flyaway price up to $580k). Without knowing more details, it's difficult to tell.

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The $400,000 per missile figure is what the original requirement was, nothing more.

It has already been admitted & accepted to be significantly more (such is the case with most weapons systems).

 

 

 

F-16Es could come off the production line immediately, once the UAE order is finished.  No dev costs.  You could probably buy two or three for the money yet to be spent on each F-35. 

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True but we do not have enough money to procure what we want as it is, much less more F-16s. The procurement cost of the F-16E for the UAE is IIRC ~$60million each. Obviously the USAF would be able to get them for significantly less but it is still as 1970's design.

 

Remember you procure for the future. Do you really want to be fighting with F-16s & F-18s in 2020?

 

 

 

Additional F/A-22s could continue off the production line after the original purchase - again with no additional R&D costs!

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I hope thay do. Personally, I think we need at least twice as many F/A-22s as we are likely to ever get.

 

 

 

Hardly.  The F/A-18E is a mature system that is IN PRODUCTION.  It's dev costs are SUNK!

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Yep & each one costs as or more than a F-35 & is significantly less effective.

 

 

 

The true costs of the F-35 won't be known for years.  In any event, you can't buy an F-35 without paying for R&D, so any analysis of alternatives HAS to take this into account.

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You will have to may much of the R&D for the F-35 whether you by 5,000 of them or none at all.

 

 

 

Look, I'm not saying you'll get the same capability as an equivalent F-35 buy.  Just that you can save a TON of money and still be able to do the majority of tasks required.

How much?  My guess is it's a drop in a 250 billion dollar bucket.

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Adding up all the other cost involved in cancelling the F-35, I do not think so.

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Ah, I think I get it now--I think, anyway.

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In case you don't, I believe that the image is of the projected/hypothetical FB-111H.

 

If you google that, you can find some nice artists concepts of what it would have looked like.

 

--Garth

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In case you don't, I believe that the image is of the projected/hypothetical FB-111H.

 

If you google that, you can find some nice artists concepts of what it would have looked like.

 

--Garth

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Sort of :P I was just bored and decided to draw up an medium bomber based on an F-111 size with B-1B features.

 

By seperating the engines like the B-1B, there's enough room for a second bomb bay. Bit wider too, so it allows for an increase in internal fuel as well.

Edited by Burncycle360
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Which brings us back to my original point: is the extra expense worth whatever gains might be had?  What were the lost opportunity costs of the UK Speying the Phantom instead of just buying F-4Js off the shelf?

 

Our aircraft industry was going through a really bad patch with all sorts of aircraft projects being cancelled. Putting Speys in the Phantom, not only arguably resulted in a better aircraft but helped keep Rolls-Royce going through that era.

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but then, who will volunteer to be the first troop unit airlifted in by a UAV??

 

I can't see the point in transport UAV's anyway. They won't be less expensive, and unless you go to an all-robotic army, there will be humans on board at least part of the time anyway. Tankers, yes, but removing a flight crew of three or four from danger while airlifting a company of troops into the AO just doesn't seem worth it.

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When it comes to large UAVs, it's not about removing the flight crew from danger. It's about removing the restrictions that flight crews impose on the system. It's one of the things that will eventually save airlines from their labor problems, if any of them survive long enough.

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Plus this is purely speculative.  If there is one thing we do know (based on just about every other weapons system) this timetable is likely to slip by 5-10 years even if implemented.

 

And the F-35 is somehow immune to this slippage? It is just as likely, perhaps even more so, since it's really three aircraft smashed into one program. And one of which, the STOVL variant, uses a completely new propulsion scheme.

 

While there is still a significant amount of development to be done on the F-35 (mostly red tape - if we were willing to take the risk, we could start building production F-35's today) none of these speculative CUAV has gotten off the drawing board & you (& others) are making a big leap of faith that they can be made to work as envisioned.

 

:blink: Huh? None of the production F-35 variants even exist! (the X-35 is not the same aircraft)

 

The X-45A UCAV has been flying since 2002 and has actually dropped test ordinance. I'd say this is a bit past the 'drawing board'. (but not near operational, obviously)

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You still have to buy more airframes to launch your JASSM from (the majority of current airframes will by too costly to operate by 2015) & I gave a comparision of the F-35 (all three versions) to that of the F/A-18E/F since it has already been mentioned that additional F/A-18E/Fs could be procured in lue of F-35's.

 

Well, firstly your comparison data only takes into account production costs, and ignores the $40+ billion needed to develop the F-35.

 

Second, I said buy a mixture of F/A-18E/Fs for the USN/USMC and F-16E/Fs for the USAF. If the F-16E/Fs are too expensive, they can buy F-16C block 50+ (with some of the E/F's features like APG-80).

 

The last buy of block 50s cost $26.9 million each.

 

Remember you procure for the future.  Do you really want to be fighting with F-16s & F-18s in 2020?

 

And F/A-22s and J-UCAS, and possibly a long-ranges strike system, and more capable munitions like JASSM-ER.

 

Yeah, I think we'd be ok.

 

Yep & each one costs as or more than a F-35 & is significantly less effective.

 

No it isn't. Even with the F-35 figures you quoted (which don't include dev costs), the F/A-18E/F is in the same ballpark as the USMC & USN F-35s. And this is all based on figures from 1999, for a system that is still early in its development. The F/A-18E/F's price is firm - with zero dev costs.

 

Less effective? Yes. But hardly more expensive.

 

 

You will have to may much of the R&D for the F-35 whether you by 5,000 of them or none at all.

 

Exactly, which is why I say cancel it.

 

Actually, that's not entirely true. Since the F-35 is really three aircraft programs, each with its own slice of dev costs, cancelling one or more of the variants would reduce the total R&D money needed.

 

Adding up all the other cost involved in cancelling the F-35, I do not think so.

 

We'll have to agree to disagree.

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And the F-35 is somehow immune to this slippage?  It is just as likely, perhaps even more so, since it's really three aircraft smashed into one program.  And one of which, the STOVL variant, uses a completely new propulsion scheme. 

:

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No.

 

I was simply comparing production cost based on same year $.

 

 

 

blink: Huh?  None of the production F-35 variants even exist! (the X-35 is not the same aircraft)

The X-45A UCAV has been flying since 2002 and has actually dropped test ordinance. I'd say this is a bit past the 'drawing board'. (but not near operational, obviously)

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I never said any production F-35s have flown, only that we could begin construction of production F-35s today.

 

The X-35A 1st flew in 2000.

 

I have personally seen the X-35B flying around San Diego (talk about a traffic stopper - I was suprised they allowed it to hover several hundred feet almost directly over the interstate).

 

The X-35 could in fact be designated YF-35 since it a pre-production flight test aircraft for the F-35.

 

The X-45A, OTOH, is a technology demonstrator. At best, it is a scale model of what may, or may not become the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS). The X-45C (full scale demonstator) is not expected to fly until 2007. Even then, there is no guarantee the the X-45C wil then be chosen as the J-UCAS (although it is likley).

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When it comes to large UAVs, it's not about removing the flight crew from danger. It's about removing the restrictions that flight crews impose on the system. It's one of the things that will eventually save airlines from their labor problems, if any of them survive long enough.

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I would suspect that the lack of a flight crew to endanger is still the primary issue.

Sure, pilots aren't exaclty lightweight when the life support and volume are figured in.

Sure, you can design a more stealthy aircraft without a pilot, and you could build a more manueverable one without the+ 9G -5G? limit of the pilot.

 

SO far I haven't seen any evidence that anyone has actually tried to use the greater G tolerance.

 

Now THAT might be a potent dogfighter. Imagine a 12-15 G capable plane?

 

 

IIRC conventional jet engines start self destructing due to warpage at 20+

A Ramjet or Scramjet might be less susceptible, but I don't know.

 

HMM, a Mach 3 rocket boosted (takeoff and initial acceleration) ramjet powered interceptor or penetrator that could pull 20 gs? If the pilots/controllers/AI and the control mechanisms could keep up with it, it might be damned hard to stop.

Edited by gewing
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Well, firstly your comparison data only takes into account production costs, and ignores the $40+ billion needed to develop the F-35. 

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That's right, I was comparing the cost of building F-35A/B/C to that of the F/A-18E/F in same year dollars. What do you know, the F/A-18E/F is more expensive. Also note that the cost of the F/A-18E/F in 2003/2004 was over $80million each.

 

 

 

Second, I said buy a mixture of F/A-18E/Fs for the USN/USMC and F-16E/Fs for the USAF. If the F-16E/Fs are too expensive, they can buy F-16C block 50+ (with some of the E/F's features like APG-80). 

The last buy of block 50s cost $26.9 million each.

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Yes, F-16s are comparatively inexpensive by themselves but you need to add to that the additional cost of additionl support aircraft needed for the F-16 to perform the same missions as the F-35.

 

 

 

And F/A-22s and J-UCAS, and possibly a long-ranges strike system, and more capable munitions like JASSM-ER. 

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It is unlikey that we will get enough F/A-22s for their primary role as air-superiority (err... Air Dominance) much less strike missions.

 

As has already been pointed out CUAVs are unproven sysytems that will not be able to perform many missions (they will likley work marvaleously at so missions but be completely incapable of performing others) & still a ways off.

 

 

 

Remember you procure for the future.  Do you really want to be fighting with F-16s & F-18s in 2020?

Yeah, I think we'd be ok.

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The USAF, USN & USMC do not & that is why they want F-35s.

 

 

 

Yep & each one costs as or more than a F-35 & is significantly less effective.

No it isn't.  Even with the F-35 figures you quoted (which don't include dev costs), the F/A-18E/F is in the same ballpark as the USMC & USN F-35s.  And this is all based on  figures from 1999, for a system that is still early in its development.  The F/A-18E/F's price is firm - with zero dev costs.

Less effective? Yes.  But hardly more expensive.

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Look at the numbers again. The producion cost for the F-35 could be anywhere within that range - not neccessarily at the highest value.

Again, comparing production cost using same year dollars.

 

The per unit cost of the F/A-18E/F continues to go up (it is already over $80million each).

 

Plus all the additional costs involded with the F/A-18E/F & the F-35 is less expensive.

 

 

 

You will have to may much of the R&D for the F-35 whether you by 5,000 of them or none at all.

Exactly, which is why I say cancel it.

 

Actually, that's not entirely true.  Since the F-35 is really three aircraft programs, each with its own slice of dev costs, cancelling one or more of the variants would reduce the total R&D money needed.

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You continue to ignore the fact that some of the developement cost have already been spent & that canceling the project (even significantly reducing it) will result in punitive damages. And then you still have to but new airframes of some kind.

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