Monday, May 14, 2012

A Fine Whine

Seems like ten years into the Global War on (Some Kinds of People Using Some Forms of) Terror, at least one jet-jockey isn't feeling the love:
"The last time we bought this few aircraft was in 1916, when we were still the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps. In just FY13, the Army and the Navy will buy more aircraft than the Air Force will buy in the entire FYDP [Future Years Defense Plan]! Everything I see indicates that senior leadership doesn’t understand, or worse, doesn’t care, why we have an independent Air Force."
Heavens to Key West! Is there rebellion in the hangars? Anyone out there know whether this is a good indication of the condition of the USAF, or just one fighter jock feeling miffed?


  1. I'd tell that jockey that's what happens when you dipshits decided the F-35 was the bomb.

    This is Darwinism for tactical airpower. Evolution in action. Now get to that air-conditioned trailer and fly your drone. Here's a medal.

  2. sro: The funny thing is that just prior to reading this I had been playing a WW2 air combat game called "Wings of War" with my kiddo and had been quietly marveling at the technical and tactical competence of the Forties USAAF that had produced the P-38 "Lightning".

    Maybe I'm being an old fud, but ISTM that - all the U.S. uniformed services but - the USAF in particular has been eaten up with the "lets-make-a-handful-of-REALLY-spendy-high-speed-low-drag-bells-and-whistles-platforms" outlook.

    I understand that a fighter aircraft circa 2012 is a different animal than a fighter of 1943 - one F-15 is probably the equivalent of 10 or 20 P-38s - but, we made 10,000 P-38's versus, say, 340-some F-15Es. Even at 20-1 the modern A/C numbers come off looking kinda skimpy, and that's ignoring the god-knows-how-many OTHER models of pursuit aircraft fielded in 1943-45.

    I mean, I get that this guy is pissed that his service budget is tight. But I wonder if he'd be willing to go back to the lower level of capability he'd need to to be able to actually had more than a couple thousand fighter aircraft in service at one time?

  3. Fighter pilots became obsolete when they became so precious. Dumbass gets himself shot down over Bosnia? Turn it into a Hollywood drama.

    What benefit does he provide over a drone? He's a liability. His leadership gets it. They're going to General Atomics or Northrop in a year or two.

    youtube "Rutan Ares" for the last opportunity the AF had to get it.

  4. Good point on the drones; as I commented on an earlier post about them - as a grunt I love the heck out of them. Long loiter time, great eyes-on capability (assuming the controller DOES work with my FAC...); everything I don't get with an F-16 fast-mover.

    I do get that we need manned fighters for air superiority. But ISTM that this guy is arguing over a handful of platforms his service is losing because of geopolitical decisions...while his service has CHOSEN to drastically reduce the number of platforms to ensure that the ones they do buy are the most capable (and therefore the most expensive) possible.

    So I don't get the bitching over his service chief signing on to the whole "little war" paradigm. Yeah, it sucks to have to fly low and slow hunting for G's rather than zooming up into the wild blue yonder. But the reality is that there's just no viable peer air-to-air enemy out there; it doesn't make sense to PLAN an Air Force out of a nonexistent enemy that would take decades to develop an aerial capability the USAF would need the numbers of fighters this guy wants.

    Mind you, I'd argue that there are other reasons to question the whole "hunting G's with aircraft" paradigm...but the deterioration of the silk-scarf fighter jock community into CAS-drivers doesn't seem like a good one to me...

  5. I believe that the situation is even worse.
    We just underwent a *huge* silicon electronic revolution, both for detection and communications technology.

    We can now do software radio (and hence software radar). With this technology, you can *fundamentally* change your detection and tracking ability with a mere software update. Airplanes would need to re-skin (at the least) and more likely re-design to compensate.

    Given procurement life cycles there is no way that airplane technology can keep up to software life cycles.

  6. Oooh. Didn't know that.

    As a dumb GI, that makes the idea of retreating somewhat on stealthing costs, at least. If the A/C is gonna be detectable anyway, why not just go the best generic configuration/cladding practical and produce more units, accepting that you're gonna lose some.

    Just read somewhere (Jim Fallows, maybe?) of the change in accidental loss rate in the USAF since the 60's and how drastically the "acceptable" loss rate has dropped. The paradigm really is a very small number of A/C but a REALLY low loss rate. I do wonder if we're making ourselves vulnerable to a potential enemy who solves the puzzle of how to shoot down USAF aircraft. There just doesn't seem to be such an enemy out there, but that's the nature of a "black swan" then, isn't it?

  7. Many pilot hearts have been broken when after flight school they were assigned to transports, tankers, bombers, or helos. I am just a dumb non-aviator myself but I have always felt that rotorheads are better pilots than fighter jockeys. A former car pooler of mine was an F-8 pilot in his early life who got shuttled into CH-46s when the F-8s were phased out. He once told me that in a fixed wing jet you can take your hand off the stick, close your eyes, and count to ten and you and your aircraft will still be fine, but try that in a helicopter and it will drop like a rock.

    I’ve been on vacation and met a 90-year old the other day who flew Hungarian Air Force Me-109s on the Eastern Front in 44. He said his squadron was primarily in a ground-attack role even though the aircraft was initially designed as an interceptor. He claimed to have been shot down by Soviet flak and ended up spending over 14 months in a labor camp before being repatriated to Hungary. Left there in 56 after the revolution and after a year or two with a UN passport finally ended up in Los Angeles. The 109 is a fascinating bird, 34,000 built, not counting the ones built after the war under a different name by the Spaniards and Czechs.

    On the other hand, without fighters to maintain air superiority there would be no CAS except by the wrong side. So maybe the Axis would have been better off if they had paid more attention to building more interceptors and long range fighters instead of just being another ground arm of blitzkrieg, albeit a flying one.

  8. mike

    The long standing understanding is:

    To fly is human.
    To hover is divine!