Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Fighter Mafia Alums on F-22 and Defense Budget

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Fighter Mafia Alums on F-22 and Defense Budget

    Here's a column on the CDI website by Pierre Sprey, James Stevenson and Winslow Wheeler on the above-mentioned topics. http://www.cdi.org/program/issue/doc...37&issueID=221

    Here are a few snippets:

    Let's pretend for the moment that there exists, or will soon, an enemy air force for which the F-22 would be relevant. How, then, could the F-22 help?

    We contend that as an individual performer in real world air-to-air combat, the F-22 is a huge disappointment. The Air Force vociferously disagrees - based on its hypothesis that air wars can be fought and won by long range, radar-controlled missiles fired at enemies you cannot see or visually - that is, reliably - identify. This "beyond-visual-range," radar-missile hypothesis has been tested in real world combat, and it has failed repeatedly. If ever the F-22 finds itself in an air war against a serious opponent, all of us will find out who is right.
    and

    The F-22's cost history makes it painfully obvious that we should consider the higher end of the currently advertised cost band to be a cost floor for any new purchase. At every stage, the F-22 has cost more than promised. For example, when Lockheed and the Air Force were pushing a three year contract to buy 60 aircraft now being delivered, "fact sheets" and lobbying materials widely distributed on Capitol Hill were promising a "flyaway" price of $130 million per aircraft; instead, Congress was required to actually appropriate approximately $180 million per copy. (In 1986, the Air Force originally promised a "flyaway" cost of $35 million.)

    Time has not been kind to the F-22; neither to its costs, nor to its relevance. Even in the wars the F-22 advocates postulate against a Chinese or Russian air force, the F-22 is deeply flawed, and its ultimate impact is to degrade our most important assets in the air, our pilots and their skill.

    The most prominent mission that Lockheed and the Air Force are currently pushing to buy more F-22s is demonstrated in recent newspaper articles and advertisements. Nowhere do these talk about a dangerous new air threat that explains the need for more F-22s. Instead, they focus on the 44 states that will receive corporate spending and jobs. Put another way, it is Congress' lust for pork and the perverted thinking that jobs and profits should drive defense spending, not the threat, that is driving the campaign to buy more F-22s.

    The overall defense budget is stuffed to the gills with similar examples. Budget-inflating, war-irrelevant, dubious-performing, and pork-ridden examples in the other military services include the Navy's DDG-1000 destroyer, the Army's Future Combat System, and the Marines Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. In fact, such programs are now the norm; it is the war-relevant, cost-effective ones that are scarce to the point of extinction.

    There should be no doubt how we got to where we are.
    CDI provided brief bio sketches of the authors as well:

    Pierre Sprey was one of three designers who conceived and shaped the F-16; he also led the technical side of the US Air Force's A-10 design concept team. James Stevenson is former editor of the Navy Fighter Weapons School's Topgun Journal and author of The Pentagon Paradox and The $5 Billion Misunderstanding about the Navy's F-18 and A-12. Winslow Wheeler is the director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information in Washington. Previously, he worked for four U.S. senators from both political parties and the Government Accountability Office on national security issues.
    As to the first point, have BVR missiles improved dramatically so as to shoot down (sorry for the pun) the argument advanced?

  • #2
    I haven't read the whole article, but frankly, I'm not surprised. This line had me noddong sadly:

    In fact, such [questionable] programs are now the norm; it is the war-relevant, cost-effective ones that are scarce to the point of extinction.
    In the 1990's, some ANG units were reduced to firing Daisy air rifles for want of M855 ammunition. Our riflemen are sadled with the M855, which has proven beyond all shadow of a doubt that it's a subpar performer, regularly overpenetrating unarmored targets. The Army's foray into a new camoflage pattern ACU was pretty funny, too: torn to shreds on its first patrol. And boots: don't get me started. For all the dough we're pouring into defense, we sure as hell aren't getting nearly as much in the way of real war-fighting value, are we?
    I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

    Comment


    • #3
      I find it funny that a lot of Sprey's reputation is built on the F-16 when the original concept he espoused was a light weight A2A dogfighter armed witha gun, a couple of sidewinders and a simple radar and avionics. It would be a pure WVR fighter, something that would have excelled in Korea and VietNam.
      He would have rejected the F-16 as we know it today, one of the premiere multi-role combat aircraft. His 15 minutes of fame have long since come and gone.
      As for the other two, they aren't qualified to pass credible judgment on technical matters and all 3 are limited to the same info found in the public domain same as the rest of us.
      Last edited by kuma; 09 Mar 10, 19:21.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by kuma View Post
        all 3 are limited to the same info found in the public domain same as the rest of us.
        With regard to this point, its probably true (although who knows what back-channel info previously-made contacts have passed along - finding the needle in the haystack of publicly available information can be quite daunting, wouldn't you agree?). In any case, people such as this provide an important service simply by offering these facts to a wide audience of folks who might not otherwise run across them. Their opinions are simply that - opinions, which we can accept or reject at our pleasure. But the debate is a healthy one.

        As for Sprey's reputation, I think its probably based more on the Warthog than the F-16, but I think your analysis of what Sprey, Boyd, Riccioni et al wanted is correct - an inexpensive dogfighter, not a multi-role platform.
        Last edited by The Ibis; 09 Mar 10, 19:55.

        Comment


        • #5
          Has anyone here read the sci-fi short story "Superiority" by Arthur C. Clarke? There's a creepy similarity to the story told there, and the situation we now see developing with the US military.

          Quote from http://www.somefantastic.us/NRYSF_Re...litary_SF.html which reviewed the story:

          Perhaps the most fascinating story in the collection is Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority." Even though the story is a half-century old, and the oldest in the collection, it may have the most modern relevance of any story in the book. As in "The Scapegoat," the story is told from the viewpoint of a group finding itself in a war with an enemy of vastly inferior technology. Yet, because of the reliance on such high-tech weaponry, which is hard to produce in mass, and the continual attempt to make the weapons even more high-tech, the superior force ends up losing the war, thus making the reader consider what truly is important in maintaining superiority. While reading the story, it's hard not to think of the U. S. military and its reliance on extremely expensive, high-tech weaponry that takes time to produce. In fact, towards the end of the U. N. military intervention in Bosnia, the U. S. military started to report shortages of the missiles needed to equip our long-range fighters.
          EDIT - "Superiority" was originally published in 1951.

          Comment


          • #6
            I remember the story. Very original.

            Cheap, simple, mass-produced was not going to work. Since the end of the draft, personnel has been the largest single cost factor in defense spending. Assuming we built huge fleets of simple aircraft we could not raise the personnel to man and maintain them.

            More over, the large force of simple equipment and low wage troops was a communist strength. We had very little chance of beating them at their own game.

            Tech and wealth were our advantages then and now and ignoring them was and is not an option.

            IMO the problem lies not in the concept of putting top notch weapons on the front line but in the byzantine and highly political means by which they are designed and built. Remember the B-2 bomber could not be killed because components for it were litterally produced in all 50 states? What we need, what we are capable of producing, and what Congress actually buys are three very different things.
            Any metaphor will tear if stretched over too much reality.

            Questions about our site? See the FAQ.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by GCoyote View Post
              Remember the B-2 bomber could not be killed because components for it were litterally produced in all 50 states?
              Same strategy for the F-22 but didn't work, though..

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by GCoyote View Post
                I remember the story. Very original.

                Cheap, simple, mass-produced was not going to work. Since the end of the draft, personnel has been the largest single cost factor in defense spending. Assuming we built huge fleets of simple aircraft we could not raise the personnel to man and maintain them.

                More over, the large force of simple equipment and low wage troops was a communist strength. We had very little chance of beating them at their own game.

                Tech and wealth were our advantages then and now and ignoring them was and is not an option.

                IMO the problem lies not in the concept of putting top notch weapons on the front line but in the byzantine and highly political means by which they are designed and built. Remember the B-2 bomber could not be killed because components for it were litterally produced in all 50 states? What we need, what we are capable of producing, and what Congress actually buys are three very different things.
                I understand what you are saying that mass numbers of cheap, unsophisticated weapons weren't an option, and I agree with your statements about personnel requirements. Still, I don't think its fair to characterize the Fighter Mafia as luddites, no matter how they were portrayed by some, particularly in the USAF. Nor was the design of what became the F-16 supposed to be simple in the sense I think you are intimating. Rather, the fighter was to be simple, but nonetheless sophisticated (like a good wine I suppose) and provide its pilots with an edge against the enemy, while at the same time, being affordable:

                At the heart of every Fighting Falcon coming off the line is the lightweight fighter concept championed by John Boyd, Tom Christie, John Chuprun, Harry Hillaker, Chuck Meyers, Pierre Sprey, Everest Riccioni, and other members of what came to be known as the Fighter Mafia. This group favored simple and small fighter designs. Such aircraft can change direction and speed faster than their potential adversaries. Smaller aircraft are harder to detect visually and electronically. The Fighter Mafia advocated designs that are inexpensive to produce, operate, and maintain. They used technology not for the sake of using technology, but to increase effectiveness or to reduce cost. They went so far as to question and thoroughly analyze the basic assumptions that underlie how fighters are judged and compared.

                General Dynamics Fort Worth transformed these ideas into reality in the 1970s. The resulting lightweight fighter set new performance standards for fighter aircraft. The basic design combined a host of advanced technologies that had never been used in previous operational fighters. A blended wing-body, variable camber wings, and forebody strakes provided extra lift and control. Fly-by-wire flight controls improved the response time and replaced heavy hydromechanical systems with lighter and smaller electronic systems. Relaxed static stability, made possible by the fly-by-wire system, greatly enhanced agility. Side-mounted throttle and stick, head-up display, thirty-degree seat back angle, hands-on controls, and a bubble canopy improved g-tolerance and situational awareness for the pilot. All of these technologies had been explored in a variety of other aircraft and research programs. But the F-16 prototype, or YF-16, was the first airplane to incorporate them all into one package.
                http://www.codeonemagazine.com/archi...july4a_97.html

                In other words, a big reason for developing the airplane was the F-15 would be too expensive to buy in bulk - which is a significant issue in any democracy, and would probably be outside the price range of many allies (the potential for foreign sales was a big incentive for the manufacturers to participate in the program, given the USAF wasn't interested in a competitor for the F-15). That being the case, the F-16 was meant all along as a compliment - to create a high/low mix.

                While Kuma is undoubtedly correct that the F-16 as originally conceived was light on electronics, it did posses enough of a suite for air-to-air combat. Indeed, the original concept contained a technogically advanced radar with excellent look down capability. Additional radars and components for a fighter/bomber role weren't included, since that wasn't the function of the airplane, nor was there a radar-guided missile capability, since the designers thought such missiles weren't particularly effective (apparently the authors of the column that started this thread still don't think so. Any opinions on that? I have little knowledge about it. Also radar today is I would think far more effective then in the early 70s, so I'm not sure what their attitude would be about a larger suite if the plane were designed today).

                Once the performance of the design was demonstrated, and the USAF began to think about replacing older multi-role frames, the low cost YF-16 was adopted and modified (its weight was increase 25% to handle the multi-roll function required by the USAF) into the multi-role F-16:

                The F-16's evolution predates the ECP process for the airplane. The first major transition from one version of the airplane to another occurred right after the two F-16 prototypes won the lightweight fighter competition and work began on the first of eight full-scale development, or FSD, F-16s. The differences between the prototype and the F-16s that followed are mostly internal. Those who transformed the prototype into an operational fighter wanted to retain the outstanding flying qualities of the original. So, they were careful to make no changes that would degrade its aerodynamics. At the same time, they had to adapt the airplane to amplified air-to-ground requirements that foreshadowed the F-16's transition into a multirole fighter. The changes in shape were, therefore, kept to a minimum. The overall length grew by thirteen inches. The nose, which accounts for about three of those inches, acquired a slight droop to accommodate the Westinghouse APG-66 radar.

                The increased emphasis on air-to-ground capability implied larger payloads. The wing and tail expanded accordingly to carry the extra loads. The wing area grew from 280 to 300 square feet, which is about as much as it could grow without requiring additional bulkheads to lengthen the fuselage. The horizontal tails and ventral fins grew in area by about fifteen percent. The flaperons and speed brakes grew by about ten percent. An additional hardpoint was placed under each wing, giving the aircraft a total of nine. The airframe was structurally strengthened for these new loads as well.

                Many other changes brought the FSD aircraft closer to being fully operational. A lighter weight Stencel SIIIS ejection seat replaced the ESCAPAC seats used in the prototypes. A simpler single door was substituted for twin doors on the front landing gear bay. A self-contained jet fuel engine starter was added. The canopy transparency was strengthened to withstand a four-pound, 350-knot bird strike. The radome was hinged to permit easier access to the radar.

                Some interesting items were used on the prototypes to keep development costs low. These items included main landing gear tires from the B-58 Hustler, an emergency power unit from the Concorde, an ejection seat from the A-4, a forked air data probe from the SR-71 Blackbird, and servo actuators from the F-111 Aardvark. The actuators in the leading edge flaps were rotary actuators from the F-111 bomb bay doors. The canopy design and the canopy latching system was based on the X-24.

                A lot of off-the-shelf equipment, however, did make it onto the FSD aircraft, including a head-up display modified from an A-7 Corsair, nosegear wheel and tire from the F-4, a signal data recorder from the A-10, an oxygen quantity indicator from an F-5E, and a nosewheel steering system from the T-39. The engine, of course, was a modified version of the Pratt & Whitney F100 engine used in the F-15.

                Besides winning the lightweight fighter competition, the YF-16 also successfully validated the aerodynamics, propulsion, and handling qualities of the basic design of the airplane. With these major design issues out of the way, engineers could concentrate more on internal details-such as the electrical system, hydraulics, and avionics-with the FSD aircraft. The high readiness and flight rates of the first production F-16s are attributable to the level of maturity achieved with the prototype design.
                http://www.codeonemagazine.com/archi...july4a_97.html

                Anyway, here is an interview with Harry Hillaker, one of the architects of the F-16, and here is another article from the Federation of American Scientists on the development of the airplane, which contains a great set of links.


                As for your last paragraph, I agree 100%

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kuma View Post
                  Same strategy for the F-22 but didn't work, though..
                  Must have been the congressional delegations in the extra six states that saved the B-2.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GCoyote View Post
                    I remember the story. Very original.

                    Cheap, simple, mass-produced was not going to work. Since the end of the draft, personnel has been the largest single cost factor in defense spending. Assuming we built huge fleets of simple aircraft we could not raise the personnel to man and maintain them.

                    More over, the large force of simple equipment and low wage troops was a communist strength. We had very little chance of beating them at their own game.

                    Tech and wealth were our advantages then and now and ignoring them was and is not an option.

                    IMO the problem lies not in the concept of putting top notch weapons on the front line but in the byzantine and highly political means by which they are designed and built. Remember the B-2 bomber could not be killed because components for it were litterally produced in all 50 states? What we need, what we are capable of producing, and what Congress actually buys are three very different things.
                    an astute point as ever Gary. The continued development of the F-16 into what is now the latest block (60) shows that the aircraft has matured marvelously and also remained relevant throughout that time. it also fully validated the high/low mix theory as being wholly acceptable force structure to prosecute war on a global scale. Can the F-35 possibly replicate the same level of success as the F-16 on the global export market, and can it have the same profound effect over the lifetime of the progamme as the F-16 has done..???

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      With Hi Tech and stealth have we lost our way?

                      Even he flew stealth fighters

                      "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                      Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                      you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                        With Hi Tech and stealth have we lost our way?

                        Even he flew stealth fighters

                        ..thats a pertinent question to ask for sure..!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                          With Hi Tech and stealth have we lost our way?

                          Even he flew stealth fighters

                          Thats a good point, however geo politics is like fashion it changes and comes around. At the moment its all asymetiric stuff so an F22 or F35 looks like about as much use as a Ferrari is to pulling a plough through a field. So having stealth or supercruise etc etc when we need armoured cars to stand up to IED's just look at best silly. However. Look at the Falklands right now. Now dont get me wrong Im not suggesting thats going to kick off again, in fact Im pretty sure it wont (hopefully) but it is an indication of where geo politcs might be heading. Resources. If oil hadnt been suspected there no one in Buenos Aries would have started this hissy fit. As economies grow rapidly on a more global scale and more and more people need feeding I think this issue of resources and conflict over resources will rear its head more and potentially with dust ups along the way. For this reason, the west needs to keep its edge.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                            With Hi Tech and stealth have we lost our way?

                            Even he flew stealth fighters
                            Check this out - another new column entitled Mindless Missiles by two of the authors of the column attached above:

                            But the real fight to watch will be the brawl over funding for drones—or, as the authors like to spin them, “Unmanned Multirole Surveillance and Strike Aircraft.” In just ten years, this court favorite is slated to grow from 72 units today to 476, a more than 600 percent increase. The money will increase—only proportionally, the planners blithely predict—from about $1 billion today to almost $7 billion in 2020, a 700 percent increase. A virtual declaration of budget war, the plan assigns all that drone spending increase to the Navy. Air Force drone spending will actually decline.

                            Two assumptions in the drone plan stretch credulity to the breaking point: first, future drones will not experience the ongoing geometric increase in cost of manned aircraft; second, Air Force generals will stand by idly with nothing for themselves while the admirals walk off with an extra $6 billion per year. In reality, total drone spending will be far higher, and the Air Force will never permit itself to fall so shamefully behind.

                            Also beyond belief is the schedule and performance that technology-fantasists on Gates’s staff and in the Navy think they will acquire. Unlike today’s relatively simple, slow, and light Predator drone, the X-47B drone the Navy wants is 20 times larger, weighs 22 tons, and flies at Mach .7. Just two pre-prototypes of the so-called “stealthy” (they never are) drones are costing at least $635 million. The flight plan is already months behind schedule.

                            No mere vehicle for video cameras, radars, and infrared gizmos to peep on the enemy, the X-47B will not only pretend to find all targets on a hypothetically fogless battlefield, but, replacing manned strike aircraft, will then attack those targets with two tons of guided bombs. Our clumsy attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, using drones carrying much the same sensors as the X-47B, make news with embarrassing regularity. Our Predators and Reapers are tasked with decapitating the al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership, but they prove much more successful at killing civilians, infuriating the previously uncommitted local population into supporting the enemy, and deluding Americans into thinking remote-control bombing of other peoples’ homelands is a freebie spectator sport with no U.S. casualties and no consequences—a truly dangerous fallacy, as the renewed attacks from al-Qaeda’s growing confederacy so vividly demonstrate.

                            The Navy, however, tops the Air Force’s drone delusions with a vision that it will land its tailless 22-ton beast by remote control on rolling, pitching carrier decks at sea. That will be difficult, perhaps impossible, given the nearly crippling rate of drone crashes we continue to experience while landing on terra firma. Grappling with that task will certainly create the occasion for lots of overruns and schedule slippages. Even without those overruns, the Navy approach appears to offer nothing that can’t be achieved from land with current Predators at about one twenty-fifth the cost.

                            In any case, capitalizing on Gates’s blessing for these drone projects, the USAF is already forging ahead with secret work on an intercontinental nuclear/conventional bomber drone, a breathtakingly useless concept. Their newly revised Long Range Strike Platform project costs $1.9 billion just for the start-up demonstrator phase. One candidate, the innocently dubbed X-47C, apparently already under a “black” contract at Northrop Grumman, would carry a modest five-ton payload despite a projected total heft upward of 110 tons.

                            On the face of it, this latest 30-year plan just rubberstamps what the Air Force and Navy have been doing ever since the Cold War started: shrinking our air forces and increasing their age while steadily increasing costs and ineffectiveness. That’s bad enough for American taxpayers, but this new budget has new wrinkles.

                            Gates has unchained a new aerospace spending monster. It hatched unobtrusively in 2001 with the $4 million Predator to become a $100 million Navy carrier drone that will, in a decade, lead to a literally mindless Air Force intercontinental bomber drone, assuredly nuclear capable, with an unknown sticker price in the billions.

                            This cost explosion in the drone budget will devour money required for the two necessary and effective forms of air support we owe our troops, capabilities that the aviation bureaucracies in the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps have systematically deprived them of: round-the-clock, immediately available, single-purpose close-air support and on-call emergency aerial resupply straight to the battlefield.

                            Worse, the huge expansion of the drone fleet deepens the U.S. commitment to a future of worldwide aerial assassinations and bombing foreign lands—and will increase the propensity of our politicians to open these fronts because of the illusion that such aggression will be cost- and casualty-free. The resulting damage to real American security will be incalculable.
                            Last edited by The Ibis; 10 Mar 10, 10:36.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Winslow Wheeler
                              Ths fellow's analysis is indeed top-notch. Good stuff.

                              Comment

                              Latest Topics

                              Collapse

                              Working...
                              X