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USAF's Ageing Aircraft

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  • USAF's Ageing Aircraft

    I just picked up an issue of Air International, May, 2007 issue. The title of an article caught my eye: "USAF's Ageing Aircraft". At present buying rates it would take 100 years to completely replace all the aircraft inventory.

    Basically the author is saying that the money being spent now on replacing Fighters/Tactical aircraft, would be better off being spent on support aircraft.

    While the US was engaged in a Cold War there was a reliance on maintaining a qualitative edge over the USSR. This means when replacing aircraft, the brass tended to choose the most complex designs. This resulted in certain types of aircraft getting available funds (fighter, advanced bomber, ecw planes, target acquisition planes and recon) over less mundane (transports, helicopters, trainers).

    The ultimate example of unnecessary technology was the Boeing YAL-1A Airborne Laser. The technology was too advanced to use. This attitude brought about longer development times, fewer numbers and larger prices. This has led to the most advanced planes getting replaced while the older versions can still be upgraded. With the demise of the successor programs to the MIG-29s and SU-27s, why rush into F-22s and F-35s?

    It is most cost effective to upgrade the F-15s, F18s and F-16s. The Navy is stretching out its buy of F-35s and buying/upgrading the F/A-18 fleet.

    What the Air Force is not talking about is they really need to replace the aircraft based on the Boeing 707, eg the KC-135, RC-135, E-3 Sentry and E-8 J-STARS. The frames, engines and even the skin is getting too old. Over 41 KC-135s have been grounded as unsafe. The one that needs replacing even more is the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The HH-47 Chinook is also mentioned, but this article was written before they announced new buys of this chopper. New builds would definitely be a plus, even if the design is about 50 years old.

    The Air Force also has too many older C-130s. The airframes and other aging components make it too costly to upgrade everything, yet when are they going to be replaced? Like the HH-47, new builds of a 50 year old design may meet current needs, but is there a better, affordable design out there? The C-5 is also being examined, as they age. The C-17 is much better, but they are only being increased to 10 and 12 the next two fiscal years.

    Since the B-2 has been curtailed, the B-52s are still being used. Time to get a lower cost design that can be effectively upgraded like the B-52 was.

    Interesting article, I thought and a good topic for discussion.

    Last edited by Pruitt; 01 Sep 07, 01:46.
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

  • #2
    yeah the uk needs to do the same get more support aircraft ,takers and cargo ... i heard some of the KC-135s are over 40 years old now ..
    owner of the yahoo group for WW1 ,WW2 and Modern TO&Es
    (Tables of organisation & equipment or Unit of action )


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