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U.S. Air Force struggles with aging fleet

26 Comments
By Eric Talmadge

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26 Comments
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All the R&D money is going to drones.

Who needs all these clunky human-controlled contraptions.

Within 20 years, drone aircraft will totally dominate the skies. (a la Terminator)

4 ( +6 / -2 )

IKE’S LEGACY - THE KC-135 STRATOTANKER >>>>> More FUEL efficient drones

SPY PLANES FROM THE ‘50s - THE U-2 >>>>> SPY SATELLITES

MAJOR KONG’S FAVORITE BOMBER - THE B-52 >>>>>> Carpet bombing is not needed anymore Precision strike Drones are needed 20 highly manueverable drones compared to a big fat plane in the sky with bad manueverablity.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Modern wars have shown that nothing can touch US combat aircraft. In the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan, etc., the US air force has no real competition anymore. Only two F-15s have been lost in combat during a quarter century of service. And it's all Obama's fault!

It's a legacy of the mid to late 1970s, when the US started to produce the current generation of superlative aircraft and weapons systems that were highly upgradeable. And it's all Obama's fault!

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Why fix something that isn't broken? They work right? Hell we still have 1960 jeeps.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Surpised helicopters weren't on this article too. The UH-1 CH-46 CH 47 are antiques as well but they still serve a role. When I was in the military we were told never get into a Helo unless in was leaking fluids because if it wasn't that means there weren't any left.

Drones are the future agreed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

another reason to divert money away from education, health and crumbling infastructure....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

They should try "revitalising" their fleet, like Garuda have done to great effect.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If it ain't broken then don't fix it!, they tried to decommisssion the Warthogs (the A-10) a few times but they revived it aagain and again because they get the job done.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If they didn't spend all their money on useless flying show-ponies like the F-22 or, even worse, the F-35b they might have some money left over for shiny new practical and relevant aircraft.

And, yes, drones are the future.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I really doubt they are struggling.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Drones only work in an asymmetrical battle field. Once the opponent has the means to jam communication, the planes will start falling out of the sky like the one caught by the Iranis feeding false GPS coordinates tricking it to land on their own air field.

As for the warthogs, they aren't pretty and they aren't fast but the men on the ground praise them the highest since it plows through enemy lines squirting it's 30mm gatling gun at 50 rounds a second shredding anything and everything in it's path.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The KC-135 has been rebuilt many times. Drones are fine and dandy but can be jammed. Next add the communications delay and they get in real trouble. Remember computers can only react as per programming but people do the most odd things.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So, send in the Ospreys? How ridiculous.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

They make the replacements so much more expensive!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Drones! Drones! Drones! I get it! But will Washington ever get it?? NO! Way too much $$ at stake. So I will not why this is under national news??

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I need these planes to work, I fly for free on some of them!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sorry buddy, the A-10 is one of the best planes the US has ever made. Hard as heck to shoot it down and when you here that zipping sound of it's Avenger cannon. Wow .....scary stuff. The gun itself is the size of a VW bug.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is the fault of the Bush presidency and the obstructionist Republicans in Congress!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Back in the late 80's, there was a push to decommission the A-10 Warthogs because the battlefield they were built to fight on (European terrain battling the "Soviet Armored Menace") no longer was a likely scenario once the Soviet Union collapsed. The Air Force wanted to drop the aircraft, but the Army said "Give them to us!" because the plane was so infantry-friendly. Close Air Support ("CAS" - the job the Warthog was primarily designed for) cannot be effectively done in a supersonic jet.

The Air Force didn't like the idea of the Army playing a larger role in air-to-ground combat - even if it was only for CAS, and strongly opposed the transfer. They claimed they had a suitable replacement for the Warthog by strapping a 30mm gatling gun pod to the belly of an F-16. They got a chance to demonstrate it during Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait. The Syracuse NY Air National Guard wing dubbed "The Boys From Syracuse" had recently traded-in their A-10s for F-16's with the gun pods underneath. Shortly after Desert Storm started, they were deployed to Kuwait. The verdict? The gun pods were mounted below the plane's center of gravity, so every time the gun fired, the nose of the plane would pitch down. This made any sort of aiming a crapshoot. Combine that with the much shorter time on-target, and the effectiveness of CAS in a fighter aircraft was proven to be highly overstated.

The A-10's 30mm gun is on the aircraft's centerline. When it fires, there is no pitch or yaw induced. Couple this improved accuracy with the slower plane's longer time on-target, and you have a plane that infantry LOVE to have around when enemy armor is a problem.

So guess why the Air Force still has A-10's in its arsenal more than 20 years later?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm sure some things need replacing and fixing. But you can't paint them all with the same brush. Some of these aircraft are just good solid planes.

While you could argue that the F-22 is worth the high price, the F-35 program on the other hand has left us with a bad taste in our mouths. Even if the USAF did upgrade its entire fleet, I sincerely doubt the DoD's ability to come up with better replacement aircraft that aren't over-priced, over-engineered, and decades behind schedule.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you can jam a pilotless aircraft you can jam the person flying the aircraft.... Doesn't really matter

The pilot can receive false information as well as the pilotless drones.

Satelittes can track the location of jamming emissions and then send etc etc to take out the jamming (radar) stations or whatever.

Jamming aircraft has been done since the Korean wars.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Feature Creep" is the bane of any weapons program lately. With many of the capabilities controlled by software, Congress and the DoD are more likely to issue directives to add features to a platform without regard to how it sets back the schedule or adds to the cost of the program. The F-35 would have been an excellent "exportable F-22"... if they hadn't tried to make it a "one size fits all" platform. Having three radically different versions of the same plane (conventional launch/landing, STOL, and carrier launch/landing) rather than separate planes designed from the beginning to do those things only guarantees that they will do each one OK, but not well. The lofty goal was to have one plane built for all the armed forces, but in hindsight that would have just resulted in a sub-par performer across the operational spectrum.

Contrast that with the A-10. It was designed from the beginning with "low and slow" CAS in mind and has excelled in that task. It is not intended to operate as an anti-air platform even though it can carry a couple of AIM-7 Sidewinder missiles. About the most it would be expected to shoot down would be enemy helicopters. If they were trying to build the A-10 today, before it was done they would have added medium and long-range missile capability and expected them to work at 30,000 feet as an air superiority platform, then dropping down to the deck for CAS.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What about the KC-10s?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The article is slightly misleading. There isn't really a single component in these planes that is original factory made. There is a reason they haven't started falling out of the sky 20 years ago...

Age isn't really a problem as long as everything is checked to make sure it can fly and replaced when it shows wear and tear.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@whiskeysour

If you jam a plane with a pilot he will try to head back using basic tools like star/sun navigation, a drone once losing transmission loses all sense of location and becomes braindead without instructions. That is the basic problem with drones.

@Upgrayedd

Actually most parts of the airframe itself is basically original factory made and it becomes worse when it is not since balance of the frame becomes twisted leading to stressing the plane in the same location requiring more maintenance to the same spot. At acertain point it is just becomes more cost effective to buy a new plane then to continually try to fly an old plane through constant maintenance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Be thankful that the pilots are not flying something built in Russia. Planes get tired, but all the parts are supposed to be American made and meet specifications.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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