Wednesday, June 14, 2017

This basically seals it...the F-35A &C are getting cut...

Thanks to Joe for the link!

via Janes.
The US Air Force (USAF) is to increase the number of aircraft and additional airframe hours to be included in a planned service-life extension programme (SLEP) of its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft.

While the service had previously stated that up to 300 of the service's 1,017 Block 40/42 and 50/52 C- and D-model aircraft would see their airframe hours increased from the current 8,000 hours to 12,000 hours (an increase equivalent to about eight years of operational flying), a notice posted by the service on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website on 12 June says that these numbers are now to grow to 841 aircraft and 13,856 hours.

And then this from USNI News.
  The Navy intends to buy at least 80 more Boeing F/A-18E-F Super Hornets over the next five years to address its fighter shortfall, a change from its previous on-the-books plan to zero out the aircraft program beginning next year, service officials said in congressional testimony today.

The Navy’s written testimony to the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee notes the “Fiscal Year 2018 President’s Budget requests $1.25 billion in [the Navy’s aircraft procurement account] for 14 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft” and that, “with the support of Congress, we will also procure a minimum of 80 additional Super Hornets across the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) and continue modernization plans to address continuing warfighter demand for advanced tactical aircraft. These additional procurements begin to mitigate the decline in [the Department of the Navy’s] strike fighter inventory and enable older aircraft to be pulled from service for mid-life upgrades and rework to extend their service life.”

Though the services typically include in their budget requests a five-year projection of spending plans, this year Pentagon officials told reporters during the budget rollout that any out-year numbers were speculative and in many cases simply maintained current program levels. They said an ongoing defense strategy review would inform future year needs and render any current projections moot – and the Navy, as a result, took the FYDP projections out of its budget highlights book but not from its more detailed justification documents.

“The (defense) secretary has not spent any time at all looking at anything beyond FY ’18,” John Roth, performing the duties of under secretary of defense, comptroller, told reporters during the budget rollout.
“You will not see a growth in force structure. You will not see a growth in the shipbuilding plan. You will not see a robust modernization program in the so-called current FYDP. And so therefore I caution anybody from trying to make any comparisons. And I’m actually of the school that it really doesn’t provide anything that’s particularly insightful.”
Both these stories are telling.

Remember the review for the Navy that the SecDef ordered.  Where the Super Hornet and the F-35C were compared?  We never got word of that.

Then there is the USAF.  They've been jealously guarding resources and all but said that they need to retire the F-16 so that they could have enough maintainers for the newer F-35.

We seem to have gotten the answer on both accounts.

The number of F-35A &Cs are gonna be cut.  It's the only thing that makes sense.  Unless they see a MASSIVE breakthrough in Congress or somehow think that the Easter Bunny is gonna deliver a pile of money to dump on the Pentagon the writing is on the wall.

There just isn't the money to buy the full schedule of F-35s.  The only question is what happens with the F-35B.  Even there I can see cutbacks.  The Super Hornet will obviously fulfill the carrier mission and I can see a few EA-18's bought to round out the electronic attack role.

This plane is about to be sliced.  Not killed but sliced to ribbons which is about the same.

The end result will be no "pushing down" on the cost curve and the idea of ramping up production to help won't happen either.

The system is still jacked up but its kinda working....kinda.

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