War and Peace: The F-22 and the future of American Air Power

It seems that the press and the left are having a conniption fit over the F-22. We need to upgrade our air power. While we enjoy an edge now, our air power is rapidly aging, the air force and navy have planes that will become unflyable in a few years..

F-22 pic

F-22 pic

“It means a step down from air dominance,” Richard Aboulafia, an air-warfare analyst for the Teal Group, which conducts assessments for the defense industry, told me. “The decision not to replace the F‑15 fleet with the F‑22 ultimately means that we will accept air casualties. We will lose more pilots. We will still achieve air superiority, but we will get hurt achieving it.”
The Last Ace
by Mark Bowden

It gets worse:

Fleet age v.s New Purchases

Fleet age v.s New Purchases

The age of our current fight fleets int he Air Force and Navy is going up as purchases of new jets go down.

Chinese FT-2000 Missile

Chinese FT-2000 Missile

Advanced Surface to Air Missiles are a particular concern since they are relatively cheap, often highly effective, and unchallenging in personnel training demands. Russia has exported large numbers of the S-300PMU / SA-10C, S-300PMU1 and PMU2 Favorit / SA-20, and is set to export the new S-400 Triumf / SA-21, which includes a 200 nautical mile range missile built to kill AWACS, JSTARS and jamming aircraft like the EA-6B Prowler and EA-18G Growler. These missile systems are often described as “Patriot class” and are similar to the US Patriot in basic design, but employ more refined radar designs, longer ranging missiles, and are much more mobile than the Patriot, making them vastly more difficult to kill compared to legacy Soviet era or Patriot SAM batteries. An opponent operating SA-10C/12/20/21/23 SAM systems can play the same “shoot and scoot” game even better than Saddam did with Scud launchers in 1991, or Serbia did with SA-6 SAM batteries in 1999, and evade US fighters most if not all of the time.

Deployed HQ-9 battery

Deployed HQ-9 battery

While Russia remains the global leader in producing and exporting sophisticated “anti-access” weapons, China is now entering this market with a range of indigenous products, and derivatives of Russian products. This year China announced the export of the HQ-9/LD-2000, an improved Chinese derivative of the Russian S-300PMU/SA-10C SAM system, which includes the option of the FT-2000 passive anti-radar missile, designed to home on the radar emissions from an AWACS, JSTARS, U-2 or Global Hawk surveillance aircraft, or on emissions from jamming aircraft like the EA-6B Prowler and EA-18G Growler. To defeat US smart munitions in flight, the LD-2000 is on offer, a clone of the European Goalkeeper radar directed Gatling gun, carried on a high mobility truck. Other Chinese built anti-access products include Missile Approach Warning Systems for SAM batteries, and jammers, as well as a wide range of modern digital radars including low band designs with some counter-stealth capability, and phased arrays derived from the Russian S-300P series.
— “F-22 Termination: America’s Self-Induced Strategic Death Spiral” Air Power Australia

The answer should be obvious, build more F-22’s and F-35’s. Wrong according to many in the media. One journo tried to downplay the Chinese threat. His article boiled down to China makes junk, so their jets are crap and nothing to be afraid of. He forgets to add that China, while having help, built the J-10 on it’s own and has export orders for it. Another, writing for Time, argues we should build more F-15”s and F-16’s.

F-16 Block 50/60

F-16 Block 50/60

Any additional funds saved by killing off major programs could be diverted into less glamorous programs the military needs more: cargo and tanker aircraft, Stryker combat vehicles and small littoral ships designed for coastal warfare. Today’s weapons can be radically improved with new electronics, engines and other components without having to build whole new ships, planes or tanks. The F-16’s builder says the latest version of that warplane rolling off Lockheed Martin’s assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas, yields “the most advanced multirole fighter available today.” In fact, the hottest F-16 now in the skies is flown not by the U.S. Air Force but by the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.– Mark Thompson: Can Robert Gates Tame the Pentagon?

So what? The F-15 Silent Eagle has been rolled out. Touted by Warisboring.com(when they are not advocating disbanding the air force), among others. The Congressional Budget Office put out a proposal to a proposal to deal with the future fighter gap. Out of four solutions, one was to buy 2,000 F-16E (block50/60). That is highly unlikely due to our commitment to F-35 partner nations. The other proposals called for increased funding of the F-35.

Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle

Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle

Faced with upgrading enemies and a hostile world, 20+ year old designs can’t pass muster. We fight dirty small wars now, but the future is not set. Our allies in the middle east are upgrading their missile defense with our latest weapons. Shouldn’t we upgrade our air force with the best and the latest air craft? Even Boeing does not believe that it’s Silent Eagle has a future.

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One Response to “War and Peace: The F-22 and the future of American Air Power”

  1. […] Of course they’ll try. They’ll trot out the same arguments. Many call for building more F-16s/F-15s. The argument that we don’t have to update our aircraft died out when F-15′s started to […]

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