Wednesday, March 09, 2016

USAF working on an EVOLUTIONARY 6th gen fighter.

via USAF Times
“Has there been any analysis as to what the actual costs would be to start up that F-22 line with the new systems that are currently available with the F-35?” asked Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.
“We have not estimated what it would cost to reopen the line and populate it with more modern technology,” said Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.
But Bunch said independent cost analysis have estimated it would take billions of dollars to restart F-22 production from contractor Lockheed Martin.
“It’s been years, and we viewed it in the light of the balancing act we’re already doing between readiness and modernization as something that would be cost prohibitive,” the general said.
Holmes said the Air Force is already working on a sixth-generation fighter, which it hopes to develop much more quickly than the time it took to create the F-22 and F-35. That new fighter is likely to incorporate much of the existing technology from the fifth-gen aircraft.
“Because we want to do it faster, and we can’t’ afford to do another 20 year development program for a host of reasons, we’ll try to go with technology that’s at a high readiness level now,” he said. “It’s completely possible, as we get to a requirement, that there may be competitors that bid on a modification of an existing technology or platform like the F-22 and the F-35.”
I would so love to know what's contained in those classified briefs that Congress is getting.  Something has even back benchers asking about restarting the F-22 line so things must be worse behind closed doors than open source info indicates.

Additionally I think we're looking at a truly sour view of things with regard to the military and Lockheed Martin.  Instead of grabbing the bird in hand...restarting the F-22 line and inserting bits of F-35 tech into it, they're instead ready to continue to design a new fighter points to a couple of things...

*  Either threat aircraft are projected to be a MATCH for the F-22 and a new airplane is needed...or...

*  Confidence in Lockheed Martin's ability to execute on a plan to build more F-22's is so low that they don't want to risk it.

This bears watching.

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