Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Pentagon reveals multi-year block buys for F-35's. It won't work....

via Flight Global.
As the F-35 moves towards full-rate production in three years, the US Air Force and Navy plan to transition from purchasing the aircraft in one-year blocks to multiyear procurement contracts, according to a Selected Acquisition Report released in in late March.

The USAF plans to start the first round of multiyear procurement deals with a three-year contract in 2021, followed by successive five-year procurements beginning in fiscal 2024 until the end of the programme.

The USN plans to continue one-year procurements through fiscal year 2023, followed by successive five-year procurements from fiscal year 2024 until the end of the programme.

Multiyear procurement contracts are a special mechanism that Congress permits the DOD to use for a limited number of programmes at full-rate production to reduce costs by several percent. In total, the DOD plans to purchase 2,456 F-35s: 1,763 F-35As for the USAF; 353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs for the Marine Corps; and 273 F-35Cs for the USN.
Story here.

This is an ambitious plan.

Too bad it won't work.

The problem is more than the F-35.  Let's just assume that they FINALLY get all the bugs worked out and the plane starts to deliver.

They're facing two terrible problems. 

The first is the upgrade path.  By 2021 when they first start this multi-year buy they're going to be starting the first of many upgrades to get the plane to equal current top tier 4th gen airplanes...especially looking at its EOTS that is a gen behind current SNIPER money will have to be diverted to testing and implementing the system on jets they're buying.  That will add cost at an inopportune time.

The second is the budget.  Republican defense hawks have been sounding the alarm that this is the last big budget the Pentagon will receive.  Quite honestly considering our current fiscal state, we shouldn't have given the Pentagon this much money now.  In the future?  It just won't happen.

There are other issues that will take a whack at the F-35 program for the services too.

For the USAF they're looking at a MASSIVE budget trainwreck.  They're trying to put into service the F-35, the KC-46, and a replacement for several other jets that perform important roles...those low density high demand airframes the ground guys depend on...besides that you have competing interests inside the service from the B-21 for nuclear deterrence to buying a new Air Force One to even building hypersonic weapons and rebuilding weapon stocks.

The US Army will be howling from the sidelines.  They're gonna want their Next Generation Combat Vehicle, continue AMPV production, rebuild Strykers to the 30mm variant, design a Bradley II, and of course buy a shit load of JLTVs as well as working on the next gen Chinook, replacement for the BlackHawk and make a decision on which way they go for an Apache Attack replacement.

The US Marines will also be screaming.  No more banging on the Wing.  They need new rides so the CH-53K is essential AS IS getting the MV-22 to one configuration!  We need the ACV, the AAV Survivability Upgrade (along with enhanced lethality options for both) as well as JLTVs, more cannons and MLRS.

The US Navy?  They might be in the worse shape of all with regard to this plan.  They'll be getting Advanced Super Hornets for comparative pennies while being pressured to buy more F-35C's.  Meanwhile they need to sort out their new Cruiser sized Destroyers, figure out where they go with Burkes, put into service new subs, build a new set of Command Ships, figure out what they're gonna settle on with the AFSB/MLP type ships and other important things.

Oh and did I mention they're gonna be trying to do all this while undergoing the biggest social change in the military since the 1950's?

This is ambitious but they're making plans for people down the road to carry out.  The General's club is tight but if they have to bail because the politicians won't fund it then they can't start a coup and make it work.

I said that to mean this.

They better have a plan B, cause even I can see this is simply wishful thinking....

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