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BlackJAC
It's better to be a black king than a white knight
08:00 PM on 12/23/2009
Plot Hole, Mr. Wheeler: the existing F-16 fleet is old enough to run for Senate. Metal fatigue alone requires us to replace them.
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progressivestance84
The Right is Wrong.
01:43 AM on 12/24/2009
How bout replacing them with newer F-16's? How about replacing old F-15's with newer F-15's? The aerodynamic designs of these planes are sound, just modernize the radar technology and weapons systems. Aerodynamics is aerodynamics. The F-15 and F-16 models have been successful because they followed the kiss method. "Keep It Simple Stupid"
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BlackJAC
It's better to be a black king than a white knight
08:52 AM on 12/24/2009
Getting the F-15 in the first place was a fight and a half because its design was dominated by old-guard fighter jocks who believed fighters had exactly one seat and one engine. Overall the procurement process is akin to children's toys: the Pentagon sees something nifty and says to Congress "Buy me that!" When Congress denies the request on grounds such as yours or even simple budgetary matters, the Pentagon throws a pundit-encouraged hissyfit about how nobody loves them.
07:46 PM on 12/23/2009
Yeah, it was obviously a pig...

' The P-38 was used most successfully in the Pacific Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations as the mount of America's top aces, Richard Bong (40 victories) and Thomas McGuire (38 victories). In the South West Pacific theater, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the appearance of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war. The P-38 was probably the quietest fighter in history, the exhaust merely whispering out of the turbo exits. It was extremely forgiving, and could be mishandled in many ways, but the rate of roll was too slow for it to excel as a dogfighter. The P-38 was the only American fighter aircraft in active production throughout the duration of American involvement in the war, from Pearl Harbor to VJ Day. ...

The P-38 was used most extensively and successfully in the Pacific theater, where it proved ideally suited, combining excellent performance with very long range. The P-38 was used in a variety of roles, especially escorting bombers at altitudes between 18-25,000 ft (5,500-7,600 m). The P-38 was credited with destroying more Japanese aircraft than any other USAAF fighter. ' ... (Wiki)
07:22 PM on 12/23/2009
Basically the authors are correct. The P-38, in Europe, suffered the same fate as its counterpart, the ME-110, did in the Battle of Britain. Twin engine fighters were too heavy to accelerate quickly and maneuver against single engine fighters.

Of course no aircraft with a man in it can out maneuver a missile these days. Predator drones seem to have very good loiter time. Heck they had to institute air traffic control over all of Iraq in 06 so that the drones wouldn't run into each other. Times reporter who was held for 7 months in Pakistan could hear the drones all the time.

Manned aircraft have no place in the front line anymore. When I worked for Pratt and Whitney in the late 90's they already knew that. That's why they bought a UAV company.
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BlackJAC
It's better to be a black king than a white knight
08:54 AM on 12/24/2009
And yet Iran managed to hack the drones' video feeds with $26 software from the Internet. What's the per-unit cost of a drone, again?
07:04 PM on 12/23/2009
Speaking of pork, in a related, yet far-more-important story...

Mass. push saves costly engine plan
Lawmakers protect jobs at GE in Lynn despite Obama call to ax program
Boston Globe - December 23, 2009

WASHINGTON - Massachusetts lawmakers, over the fierce objections of the White House, have succeeded in reviving a costly plan to build a jet fighter engine at General Electric’s Lynn plant in an effort to protect thousands of Bay State jobs.

When President Obama urged Congress earlier this year to cancel a series of major weapons programs deemed no longer needed, he specifically cited the effort to build a backup engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“We’re going to save money by eliminating unnecessary defense programs that do nothing to keep us safe - but rather prevent us from spending money on what does keep us safe,’’ Obama said in May. “One example is a $465 million program to build an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. The engine it has works. The Pentagon does not want - and does not plan to use - the alternate version.’’

But while Congress was ultimately persuaded to adopt most of Obama’s proposed weapons cuts - including canceling the F-22 fighter program - the GE program was rescued with the aid of several Massachusetts lawmakers who lobbied behind the scenes. It marked the fourth year in a row that Bay State lawmakers joined other lawmakers with GE jobs in their states to save the project from the Pentagon’s
07:21 PM on 12/23/2009
...from the Pentagon’s budget ax.

Senator John F. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, said that GE officials had told his office that 1,000 jobs in Massachusetts will be saved or maintained once full production begins on the backup engine.

“There will also be some jobs gained, but maintaining jobs right now is very important,’’ he said yesterday...

Kerry also used his influence with the White House to get it to back off a threatened presidential veto. He told the Globe that he ultimately got assurances from Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, that the president would not veto the fiscal year 2010 defense appropriations bill if the money for the engine was included. Obama signed the bill, which totals $626 billion, on Monday.

The F-35, which is under development by prime contractor Lockheed Martin, is intended to be the main fighter jet for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and a number of allied nations that have invested in the effort. The United States plans to buy an estimated 2,400 jets, which will come in three versions: a traditional fighter, one that can operate off the deck of an aircraft carrier, and a third designed for the Marines that can take off and land vertically. ...

(Say what you want, we really know how to spend to build expensive military st*ff & lots of it!)
09:48 AM on 12/24/2009
eliminating the GE program would have given P&W a monopoly on providing engines to the military for the next 30-40 years. Monopolies are good right?
Matt51
$15 per hour minimum wage, 28% capital gains tax
09:11 PM on 12/28/2009
Usually engines and airframes are sole source. Having to maintain two different engines adds cost and takes up the limited space in a carrier. Giving each of two manufacturers essentially a guaranteed 50% share provides no competition.
Guaranteeing GE business, no matter how many competitions they lose, does not provide competition. There should be consequences to losing competitions, and GE lost this engine back in 1993. How many new designs should the taxpayer fund, so GE can be guaranteed business no matter what? Why is the taxpayer paying nearly 100% of the alternate engine? GE and RR should be required to fund at least 20% of the development cost.
The alternate engine is pure pork, oink oink.
By the way, lets have alternate engine programs for GE engines such as the T700 and F404. Let Honeywell, P&W, RR bid on them - can't have sole source can we?
06:57 PM on 12/23/2009
"At a time when fighters cost about $50,000, it cracked the $100,000 mark. Even so, it got torn apart so badly in dogfights against the far smaller, more agile, faster-climbing Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs that it had to be withdrawn from the skies over Germany as a fighter -- in favor of the far more effective, half as expensive P-51."

Oh yes. I could hardly forget the highlight of such mishaps, as that of which occurred in January 1943, when pilots of the P-38-equipped 48th Fighter Squadron had to be replaced, after its current roster refused to fly any further missions after incurring so many losses in aerial combat. Indeed. Despite its glamorous appearance, the P-38 is quite overrated.

And yes, I definitely see a gist of history repeating itself, as when MacNamara attempted to impose an multi-service fighter in the form of a cumbersome and overbudget beast, the substantial cost of which was rivaled only by the inability of the aircraft to fulfill its applications.

Aardvark II, is right. I doubt any F-16 or F/A-18 pilots are bound to be too thrilled with their new mount.
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
donquijoterocket
accident and error rule the universe
03:48 PM on 12/23/2009
I note this author fails to mention the sterling record of the P-38 in the Pacific theater of WWII where its long range helped it become a highly effective escort fighter and ground attack aircraft responsible for the ambush downing of Admiral Yamamoto's aircraft and flown by Richard I. Bong the highest scoring American ace of the war.
07:01 PM on 12/23/2009
The authors seem unfamiliar with advantages the P-38 offered with regard to long range targeting as well as the accolades it's pilots had for it. It certainly had limitations, especially in northern Europe due to cold and in it's primary theater of operations, the south Pacific due to heat in the closed canopy. I think it is notable that General Doolittle piloted the P-38 by choice over other options and in addition to Richard Bong it was also the aircraft used by the second highest ace, Thomas McGuire.
03:42 PM on 12/23/2009
As long as the primary goal of weapons systems development is profit for the developers rather than the design of functional weapon systems we'll end up with boondoggles as described above.

Everyone involved in military acquisitions should be required to memorize Arthur Clarke's short story "Superiority" before we end up losing the next big war.
02:32 PM on 12/23/2009
The authors have very little good to say about US Naval Aviation as evidenced by this article and prior writings. I'm curious about what they feel is the way forward for future naval aircraft.

Also, the P-38, a mid 1930's design, was an early war fighter, more of a contemporary of P-39's and P-40's than the later P-51's.
07:06 PM on 12/23/2009
minor correction .... the P-38 stayed in production and service throughout the war