Thursday, February 18, 2021

‘Clean Sheet’ F-16 Replacement In The Cards

 Thanks to StarshipDirect for the link!

Before we can even get to the article we have to be clear and answer one question.  What airplanes was the F-35 suppose to replace.  via

The F-35 is designed to replace aging fighter inventories including U.S. Air Force A-10s and F-16s, U.S. Navy F/A-18s, U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, and U.K. Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers. 

Now that we've gotten that out of the way let's get on to the main event. via Breaking Defense.

 The study will include a “clean sheet design” for a new “four-and-a-half-gen or fifth-gen-minus” fighter to replace the F-16, Brown elaborated. Rather than simply buy new F-16s, he said, “I want to be able to build something new and different, that’s not the F 16 — that has some of those capabilities, but gets there faster and uses some of our digital approach.”

Brown explained that the idea would be to build on the lessons learned in digital engineering for the “e-series” T-7A Red Hawk trainer, and the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD). In particular, Brown said he would like to see any F-16 replacement sport “open-mission systems” that would allow near-real-time software updates to meet new threats.


Is the F-35 going away?  Nope.  Too many have been bought.  But one thing is obvious.  Just like Roper said.  It costs too much to maintain.

All the fanboys that kept claiming that costs were getting under control, all the defense officials that stated this is a "die in the ditch" airplane have been proven wrong.

All the critics (and you know who they are...I'm talking about the guys that were onto this thing before I was) are RIGHT!

The USAF is launching this initiative and a few things are obvious.

The F-15EX is here to stay and the USAF will probably buy more.

The F-35 will not be the basis of the F-22 replacement.  That ship has sailed and all the happy talk surrounding that airplane has finally evaporated.

The idea that the USAF is talking about taking a step BACK to a gen 4.5 airplane makes me wonder about the very efficacy of stealth.  What is going on in the background?  What do they know either about stealth or the version of stealth that the F-35 has that makes them think against a peer foe the upgraded F-16 type airplane is a winner?

My guess?

The Navy CNO was right.

They're going for payloads over platforms.

Regardless the critics can take a moment to chest thump.  The fanboys need to sit down and rethink their drink.

For better or worse the USAF is looking for a 4.5 F-16 type airplane that can carry the day while the F-35 will probably serve only a fraction of its projected life. 2070?  It'll be lucky to make it to 2035.

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