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F-16 Replacement ("4.5 Generation Fighter")

rooster

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It seems that in the past many saw the F-22 and F-35 as being a 5th gen version of the F-15 and F-16 hi-lo mix.

despite its relatively short length and somewhat cheaper costs (compared to other western aircraft of this era)
it seems reality is that F-35 is really a mid-hi kind of category. It weighs as much as the F-15A, and seems to costs more to operate.
its no surprise that air forces want an actual "Lo" aircraft that is cheap to operate and needed for simpler tasks.

what are some modern aircraft that are cheap to operate then?
IRC

it was something like

F-16, Mirage 2000, Gripen A/B (in that order)
not sure where other lights, such as the FC-1, Ching Kuo, and advanced trainers like the FA-50 Golden Eagle, M-346, Yak-130 would fit in.
or advanced versions of the F-16 and Gripen.
What's a simple task in combat? What's a simple task given the proliferation of modern air defense systems?

Are we going to purposely build an aircraft that isn't stealthy or network centric that can't defend itself against other fighters?

I am having a hard time understanding why the USAF is planning on building purposely low tech fighters.

Might as well just reinvest in the F-15 production line and not spend.... what... 100B to build a new low tech fighter when arguably the f15x is already low tech.

Are we planning on wars with Senegal or Liberia?
 

helmutkohl

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It seems that in the past many saw the F-22 and F-35 as being a 5th gen version of the F-15 and F-16 hi-lo mix.

despite its relatively short length and somewhat cheaper costs (compared to other western aircraft of this era)
it seems reality is that F-35 is really a mid-hi kind of category. It weighs as much as the F-15A, and seems to costs more to operate.
its no surprise that air forces want an actual "Lo" aircraft that is cheap to operate and needed for simpler tasks.

what are some modern aircraft that are cheap to operate then?
IRC

it was something like

F-16, Mirage 2000, Gripen A/B (in that order)
not sure where other lights, such as the FC-1, Ching Kuo, and advanced trainers like the FA-50 Golden Eagle, M-346, Yak-130 would fit in.
or advanced versions of the F-16 and Gripen.
What's a simple task in combat? What's a simple task given the proliferation of modern air defense systems?

Are we going to purposely build an aircraft that isn't stealthy or network centric that can't defend itself against other fighters?

I am having a hard time understanding why the USAF is planning on building purposely low tech fighters.

Might as well just reinvest in the F-15 production line and not spend.... what... 100B to build a new low tech fighter when arguably the f15x is already low tech.

Are we planning on wars with Senegal or Liberia?

I would imagine mainly on the defensive end where you are not planning to go into enemy air defense systems.
Air policing, interceptions

or in cases of low intensity conflict which the US tends to participate heavily in. such as Afghanistan or against ISIS.

that said, I also agree that it does seem investing in a new design seems like a waste of money when we can't just update existing 4th gen designs.
 

E-V Bomber

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This entire situation is just ridiculous. It feels like the USAF is currently running around like a headless chicken. With no clear goals, no sustained direction, no responsible leadership, no defined vision for the future etc. They have all these neat and flashy R&D projects ongoing, but no clear path to integrate their fruits into the fleet. Everything surrounding the digital century series stuff is vague and buzzword-saturated to the point of illegibility, so we currently have no idea of what the program will actually produce. The USAF seemingly thinks the silver bullet for their fleet sustainment problem is to buy a bunch of less capable jets which would have little relevance in a conflict against a peer competitor (unless you count the F-15EX being used as a long-range missile truck). In reality, the USAF needs to face the sustainment problem head on and solve it. Congress should ban the USAF from undertaking any new crewed jet fighter program before it can solve the F-35’s sustainment issues. What if the B-21 has sustainment issues? will they replace the divested penetration bombers with digitally engineered B-52s?
 

helmutkohl

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This entire situation is just ridiculous. It feels like the USAF is currently running around like a headless chicken. With no clear goals, no sustained direction, no responsible leadership, no defined vision for the future etc. They have all these neat and flashy R&D projects ongoing, but no clear path to integrate their fruits into the fleet. Everything surrounding the digital century series stuff is vague and buzzword-saturated to the point of illegibility, so we currently have no idea of what the program will actually produce. The USAF seemingly thinks the silver bullet for their fleet sustainment problem is to buy a bunch of less capable jets which would have little relevance in a conflict against a peer competitor (unless you count the F-15EX being used as a long-range missile truck). In reality, the USAF needs to face the sustainment problem head on and solve it. Congress should ban the USAF from undertaking any new crewed jet fighter program before it can solve the F-35’s sustainment issues. What if the B-21 has sustainment issues? will they replace the divested penetration bombers with digitally engineered B-52s?
is it just the USAF?
does the USMC or USN have sustainment issues with their jets like the F-35?
 

DrRansom

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Something to think about for a clean-sheet, the US hasn't done a clean-sheet fighter in 15 years? If the US doesn't build clean sheet fighters, it will lose the capability to do so in the future. It may fall into the same risk zone as a certain major commercial airline manufacturer.

Getting a clean-sheet F-16 replacement may be seen as much a workforce management issue as requirement to fill the gap left by F-35 slow production and high CPFH.
 

E-V Bomber

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With the age of flat budgets upon us, does the USAF even have the money to embark on developing two new clean sheet fighters at a time? How does the USAF expect to afford developing this a unnecessary ‘budget’ F-16 replacement whilst simultaneously developing a 6th generation superiority fighter (or whatever NGAD is now)? Also, what would each prime even hypothetically offer? This initiative seems very out of the blue, so I doubt they have designs for cheap 4.5 gen fighters ready to go. IF this initiative actually progresses I can see the clean sheet requirement being dropped because of cost savings and development durations, with bids being modified off the shelf fighters. Lockheed will likely just try to persuade the USAF to buy more F-35s instead, with promises of reduced sustainment costs; maybe offering a pimped out F-16V Block 72 out of desperation. Boeing would offer a T-7a with hard points and Northrop would offer...something?
 

uk 75

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We seem back at the old Hi-lo mix debate.
To recap, the USAF decided to replace its expensive F4s with a mix of very expensive F15s and cheaper F16s in the 70s.
The F16 evolved into something nearly as expensive and capable as the F15.
Then the USAF decided to replace its F15s with the insanely expensive F22.
That didnt really work so they decided to replace the F16s and F15s with a pretty expensive JSF now F35.
F35 ended up getting more expensive than an F15 and the much vaunted unmanned 5th generation fighter oddly never appeared.
So we are back at trying to do a new F16.
Perhaps we should go for the nostalgia vote and start building F4s again.
Oh sorry, I am not a US taxpayer and we Brits have got stiffed with gold studded Typhoons AND F35s. Perhaps its time to move to New Zealand.
 

TomcatViP

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Rationally speaking, the F-35 is not expensive. At the way it is priced, specifically the A version, it's a bargain.

Only sustaining the F-35 had proved to be more costly than older models.

The same thing can be seen all across the industrial spectrum of high wage countries. Still, the US build ships, mobile phones, rockets, grow vegetables, raise cattle and are home to a large and, often underestimated touristic industry hosting record numbers of tourist from countries with a fairly disparate base of average revenue...

Military MRO will have to adapt. One way or another you look at it, the cost curve is meant to flatten... and pulling out mission time is IMOHO the way Brown see it doable the time the industry transitions to more affordable prices.
The gain for the USAF, would be to see sustainement cost beheaded in that single swap: less 5th/6th Gen usage, less overused tired airframe, more commonalities across the force, a single base to evaluate pilots' performances...

There is way more than Pro and Cons F-35 in that proposition.
 
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totoro

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The key term in all the hoopla about F16 replacement is "Son of NGAD". Also possibly that claim that NGAD will replace in part F-35.

Key to remember - NGAD is not one airframe. It's several systems. Possibly several different airframes, alongside more non-airframe systems.

So what I believe USAF may be exploring here is this:
NGAD may have one high end manned airframe, to replace the F-15s and so on. It will probably be quite pricey.
But it may also have one manned airframe tailored to be cheap to operate. Basically to do exactly the opposite of F-35, which is expensive to operate. And yes, it will likely be less capable than F-35 in some regards because of that, despite the fact it's part of NGAD program, because the KEY is to make it cheap to operate.

These two do not include various likely unmanned airframes. Which will help not only the high end airframes but also these low end manned airframes. So despite the low end planes being in some ways more vulnerable than F-35, when having the unmanned planes in the front - overall they may not be really less capable. And the unmanned and low end airframe combo may still be cheaper to operate than unmanned and F-35 combo.
 

TomcatViP

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I would temper that view with the cost of a sustained campaign against peer adversaries. At 5M$ the cheapest loyal Wingman (in all expectations), it's won't be long before a full 5/6th Gen fleet would without doubt become way more affordable.
 

archipeppe

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F-35 is the never learned lesson from the F-111 story.
At least for USAF, I didn't heard any complaint by the Navy for their F-35C or by the International Partners.

Let alone the crude fact that the F-35B (since it is the only brand new VTOL, not mentioning its stealthness and supersonic capability) hasn't any possible alternative for USMC, RN, Italian Navy, Japanese Self Defence Force, etc.
 

Colonial-Marine

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I didn't heard any complaint by the Navy for their F-35C
Except they aren't buying them anymore?..
Since when? Last I read they're still being ordered. They're probably a better buy than the Block III Super Hornets now that everything other than avionics improvements have been cut from that upgrade.

People make a big deal about having to retrofit the older CVs to operate the F-35C but the USN has had to do this a lot since the end of WWII to operate new aircraft.
 

LMFS

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But for some political games being played that I am not really aware of, the whole narrative is so terribly absurd on so many levels that it hurts:

> If the F-16 is not valid because its avionics are outdated but a 4G airframe is valid, then... change the avionics, no need for a new plane which will be massively more expensive to develop
> If the plane needs to be "clean sheet", why to make it 4.5G in the year of 2021, 20 years after you developed 5G and while you are designing 6G? VLO is suddenly worthless or economically not viable? When did they realize this?
> If the plane is to be only 4.5G, so not stealth in the way F-35 is, why not to do it unmanned in order to avoid pilots' lifes being risked?
> If the problem of the F-35 is cost (which was not some months ago while everyone was happy about starkly reduced procurement costs and optimistic about CPFH improvements), why not simply keep developing loyal wingman and other unmanned platforms? Integrate the F-35 with increasing numbers of UCAV in a way to increase numbers and leverage the networking capabilities of the F-35 to coordinate their operation, just as everyone else is doing or planing to do.
> If ageing of the F135 is faster than thought and lower capability is not a problem (4.5G narrative), then why not to detune the engine, instead of pushing for more thrust, more temperature and substitution with even riskier adaptive engines?
> Do they expect a clean sheet design to be cheaper, when development costs and risks are all considered, than already existing F-15EX? Really?
> “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.” --> How do you get there faster by developing a new plane instead of changing the stuffing as has been proven fast, cheap and reliable so many times? Is today's technology so backwards that it cannot substitute the F-16 systems with more compact, modern and functional ones?
> The Air Force’s fighter fleet averages 28 years old, and “that’s not going to compete well with adversaries,” Brown noted. “That’s why this force mix study is so important: to bring down the average age, to have something relevant not just today, but well into the future.” --> Why not modernize your planes then? Is it strange than opting for "clean sheet" designs systematically ends up producing too expensive results which need to be cancelled in search of a cheaper alternative?
> How can it be that a newly developed plane like F-35 is not going to fulfil its main task, substitute the F-16, and at the same time is slated for replacement by NGAD? Is that not equivalent to prematurely cancelling the F-35 program?

We need to wait and see, but if the USAF would want to arise suspicions about the future of F-35 they could not do it better than with these latest statements...
 

E-V Bomber

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But for some political games being played that I am not really aware of, the whole narrative is so terribly absurd on so many levels that it hurts:

> If the F-16 is not valid because its avionics are outdated but a 4G airframe is valid, then... change the avionics, no need for a new plane which will be massively more expensive to develop
> If the plane needs to be "clean sheet", why to make it 4.5G in the year of 2021, 20 years after you developed 5G and while you are designing 6G? VLO is suddenly worthless or economically not viable? When did they realize this?
> If the plane is to be only 4.5G, so not stealth in the way F-35 is, why not to do it unmanned in order to avoid pilots' lifes being risked?
> If the problem of the F-35 is cost (which was not some months ago while everyone was happy about starkly reduced procurement costs and optimistic about CPFH improvements), why not simply keep developing loyal wingman and other unmanned platforms? Integrate the F-35 with increasing numbers of UCAV in a way to increase numbers and leverage the networking capabilities of the F-35 to coordinate their operation, just as everyone else is doing or planing to do.
> If ageing of the F135 is faster than thought and lower capability is not a problem (4.5G narrative), then why not to detune the engine, instead of pushing for more thrust, more temperature and substitution with even riskier adaptive engines?
> Do they expect a clean sheet design to be cheaper, when development costs and risks are all considered, than already existing F-15EX? Really?
> “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.” --> How do you get there faster by developing a new plane instead of changing the stuffing as has been proven fast, cheap and reliable so many times? Is today's technology so backwards that it cannot substitute the F-16 systems with more compact, modern and functional ones?
> The Air Force’s fighter fleet averages 28 years old, and “that’s not going to compete well with adversaries,” Brown noted. “That’s why this force mix study is so important: to bring down the average age, to have something relevant not just today, but well into the future.” --> Why not modernize your planes then? Is it strange than opting for "clean sheet" designs systematically ends up producing too expensive results which need to be cancelled in search of a cheaper alternative?
> How can it be that a newly developed plane like F-35 is not going to fulfil its main task, substitute the F-16, and at the same time is slated for replacement by NGAD? Is that not equivalent to prematurely cancelling the F-35 program?

We need to wait and see, but if the USAF would want to arise suspicions about the future of F-35 they could not do it better than with these latest statements...
You’ve done a masterful job of highlighting the broken logic behind this situation. In turn also highlighting why such a program would not make it past Congress: they’d ask for clear justification on why this option was chosen over alternatives before committing to funding it, which the USAF would not be able to provide.
 

tequilashooter

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I really, really, really want the X-47C to be considered a planned thing or anything related on that note with huge production numbers later.

  • Costs wont be a problem in terms of maintenance and production.
  • Building a stealth profile UAV with air to ground options will work beautifully with air to ground missions, as far as air to air missiles with interceptor roles I will await further news reports on a certain UAV project to make a decision on that and how far that evolves.
  • Because of having no pilot(ground operators) and costs this will encourage U.S. missions more, like the middle east.
  • short range air defenses vs current UAVs is an ongoing debate in arguments regarding use of effectiveness, but its an excellent choice to have UAVs being designed to engage long range air defenses in the future, like in case some country gets a S-300(wont be seeing S-400s, S-350s or S-500s any time soon to the areas of interests regarding conflicts unless a super power is involved.).
Happy with B-21, but would like a drone stealth version with a smaller size and I would not complain if F-22 modernization plans come in effect to support such drones in the future or any related fighter on that note. That is if the complaints of the F-35 is that big which I don't know, if it isn't than give the aircraft a nice stealth drone loyal wingman(Kratos Valkyrie UAV with GBU-53 doesn't satisfy me enough).
 

helmutkohl

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I really, really, really want the X-47C to be considered a planned thing or anything related on that note with huge production numbers later.

  • Costs wont be a problem in terms of maintenance and production.
  • Building a stealth profile UAV with air to ground options will work beautifully with air to ground missions, as far as air to air missiles with interceptor roles I will await further news reports on a certain UAV project to make a decision on that and how far that evolves.
  • Because of having no pilot(ground operators) and costs this will encourage U.S. missions more, like the middle east.
  • short range air defenses vs current UAVs is an ongoing debate in arguments regarding use of effectiveness, but its an excellent choice to have UAVs being designed to engage long range air defenses in the future, like in case some country gets a S-300(wont be seeing S-400s, S-350s or S-500s any time soon to the areas of interests regarding conflicts unless a super power is involved.).
Happy with B-21, but would like a drone stealth version with a smaller size and I would not complain if F-22 modernization plans come in effect to support such drones in the future or any related fighter on that note. That is if the complaints of the F-35 is that big which I don't know, if it isn't than give the aircraft a nice stealth drone loyal wingman(Kratos Valkyrie UAV with GBU-53 doesn't satisfy me enough).

what are the main limitations in having these UCAVs to become the next 'lo' multirole combat aircraft?
they have internal bays, are generally smaller (good for carrier space), and seem cheaper.
is it a bandwidth issue? range issue?
 

rooster

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It seems that in the past many saw the F-22 and F-35 as being a 5th gen version of the F-15 and F-16 hi-lo mix.

despite its relatively short length and somewhat cheaper costs (compared to other western aircraft of this era)
it seems reality is that F-35 is really a mid-hi kind of category. It weighs as much as the F-15A, and seems to costs more to operate.
its no surprise that air forces want an actual "Lo" aircraft that is cheap to operate and needed for simpler tasks.

what are some modern aircraft that are cheap to operate then?
IRC

it was something like

F-16, Mirage 2000, Gripen A/B (in that order)
not sure where other lights, such as the FC-1, Ching Kuo, and advanced trainers like the FA-50 Golden Eagle, M-346, Yak-130 would fit in.
or advanced versions of the F-16 and Gripen.
What's a simple task in combat? What's a simple task given the proliferation of modern air defense systems?

Are we going to purposely build an aircraft that isn't stealthy or network centric that can't defend itself against osnowher fighters?

I am having a hard time understanding why the USAF is planning on building purposely low tech fighters.

Might as well just reinvest in the F-15 production line and not spend.... what... 100B to build a new low tech fighter when arguably the f15x is already low tech.

Are we planning on wars with Senegal or Liberia?

I would imagine mainly on the defensive end where you are not planning to go into enemy air defense systems.
Air policing, interceptions

or in cases of low intensity conflict which the US tends to participate heavily in. such as Afghanistan or against ISIS.

that said, I also agree that it does seem investing in a new design seems like a waste of money when we can't just update ex
Something to think about for a clean-sheet, the US hasn't done a clean-sheet fighter in 15 years? If the US doesn't build clean sheet fighters, it will lose the capability to do so in the future. It may fall into the same risk zone as a certain major commercial airline manufacturer.

Getting a clean-sheet F-16 replacement may be seen as much a workforce management issue as requirement to fill the gap left by F-35 slow production and high CPFH.
Look around the world. France only has Rafael. Sweden the Gripen. The rest of Europe has only Typhoon. Russia has done one new clean sheet fighter in decades that looks like its in the swirl . We have done 2 new fighters plus we still produce 15s and 16s and super hornets and a new bomber being built plus a lot of work on drones some in production and others not procured but still kept the engineers warm and working on new airframes. And we are working on new airframes for the navy and USAF. China is the closest to the USA with their new clean sheet airframes but the USA is still king of the hill.

We need to skip this waste of money and resources and focus on the ngad/pca or whatever they are called.

Purposely building a low tech low capability fighter is dumb. By the time we build any new fighter its already 8 years old tech by the time its procured. Look at raptor... By the time we starter buying it, the 35 already had better everthing: materials, coatings, sensors/fusion, ect.

So now the USAF wants an aircraft purposely obsolete....
 

Bounce

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How much cheaper would an F-35A be minus the RAM? Use a cheaper coating like the F-16s Haveglass V paint or none at all.
 

shin_getter

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Do we even know what the aircraft is suppose to be used for? This needs to be asked because a F-16's role have changed significantly since the lightweight fighter mafia days. Air superiority? CAS? Interdiction? *Ride to keep the pilots happy (hell is an airforce operating like 2nd artillery corps) without breaking the bank?*

*troll*
This new aircraft is obvious a new attempt to kill the A-10!
*/troll*

what are the main limitations in having these UCAVs to become the next 'lo' multirole combat aircraft? ....
is it a bandwidth issue? range issue?
*epistemological status: highly speculative*

AI (by the wrong people, like the pentagon) can only lead to Fascism~~~ (or some circles would so believe, just look at proj. maven)

The intellectual question of the day isn't how to build lethal autonomous weapons, but how to kill the concept. See the slaughterbots video and attempts at getting them categorized as WMD. Hence "Loyal" wingman with intentionally limited capacity to preempt the concept.
 
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robunos

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Do we even know what the aircraft is suppose to be used for? This needs to be asked because a F-16's role have changed significantly since the lightweight fighter mafia days. Air superiority? CAS? Interdiction? *Ride too keep the pilots happy (hell is an airforce operating like 2nd artillery corps) without breaking the bank*
That's one of the questions that needs to be asked, the other is where in the F-35 program is the unacceptable expense occurring? Avionics? Engine? RAM and surface coatings? ALIS? If it can be localised, it should be able to be dealt with. Or is it just a case of 'more than we think we should have to pay' . . .

cheers,
Robin.
 

tequilashooter

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is it a bandwidth issue? range issue?
No information or source will tell us why that is, but our computer industry along with ranking not to far behind on Russia in programming(ICPC) shows that we are capable enough for a stealth drone project but Robert Ruszkowski(head chief designer of F-35 I believe) https://www.flightglobal.com/civil-uavs/auvsi-lockheed-urges-more-x-47b-testing/116779.article suggests its too early which makes me scratch my head when I see another country deciding to implement production for theirs. This was back in 2014.
 

jsport

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But for some political games being played that I am not really aware of, the whole narrative is so terribly absurd on so many levels that it hurts:

> If the F-16 is not valid because its avionics are outdated but a 4G airframe is valid, then... change the avionics, no need for a new plane which will be massively more expensive to develop
> If the plane needs to be "clean sheet", why to make it 4.5G in the year of 2021, 20 years after you developed 5G and while you are designing 6G? VLO is suddenly worthless or economically not viable? When did they realize this?
> If the plane is to be only 4.5G, so not stealth in the way F-35 is, why not to do it unmanned in order to avoid pilots' lifes being risked?
> If the problem of the F-35 is cost (which was not some months ago while everyone was happy about starkly reduced procurement costs and optimistic about CPFH improvements), why not simply keep developing loyal wingman and other unmanned platforms? Integrate the F-35 with increasing numbers of UCAV in a way to increase numbers and leverage the networking capabilities of the F-35 to coordinate their operation, just as everyone else is doing or planing to do.
> If ageing of the F135 is faster than thought and lower capability is not a problem (4.5G narrative), then why not to detune the engine, instead of pushing for more thrust, more temperature and substitution with even riskier adaptive engines?
> Do they expect a clean sheet design to be cheaper, when development costs and risks are all considered, than already existing F-15EX? Really?
> “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.” --> How do you get there faster by developing a new plane instead of changing the stuffing as has been proven fast, cheap and reliable so many times? Is today's technology so backwards that it cannot substitute the F-16 systems with more compact, modern and functional ones?
> The Air Force’s fighter fleet averages 28 years old, and “that’s not going to compete well with adversaries,” Brown noted. “That’s why this force mix study is so important: to bring down the average age, to have something relevant not just today, but well into the future.” --> Why not modernize your planes then? Is it strange than opting for "clean sheet" designs systematically ends up producing too expensive results which need to be cancelled in search of a cheaper alternative?
> How can it be that a newly developed plane like F-35 is not going to fulfil its main task, substitute the F-16, and at the same time is slated for replacement by NGAD? Is that not equivalent to prematurely cancelling the F-35 program?

We need to wait and see, but if the USAF would want to arise suspicions about the future of F-35 they could not do it better than with these latest statements...
Given what acting SeC Def Chris Miller said about the 35 on Jan 14 2021 that is quoted in AWST, "prematurely cancelling" is great idea.
 

tequilashooter

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Sure F-35s are expensive, but that doesn't make it bad. It's a flying missile boat with stealth that operates at stand off ranges. But wait, we need something that can operate between are nice expensive F-35 and the target. F-16s are too old so they won't do. I wonder what it could be, oh it's drones.
You want to know what aren't expensive? Drones.
So can you guess who, or rather what, is going to be flying right along side F-35?
It's going to be drones.

Imagine if you will, Tom Cruise flying an F-35, except Iceman isn't his wingman, it's Wall-E, his AI wingman in a XQ-58A. XQ-58A's are predicted to cost around $3 million a pop which is way cheaper than an F-16.
So Tom Cruise is sitting in a flying missile boat with stealth that operates primarily at stand off range. Wall-E flies alongside him as back up. Tom can order Wall-E forward to either scout ahead to look for targets, test defenses, or engage targets while Tom backs him up at stand off range. Alternately, Wall-E can watch Tom's back and help keep bandits off his tail if he gets into trouble. Wall-E could even be fit with other weapon platforms such as EWar pods to jam enemy electronics, targeting lasers to help guide munitions to targets, or other such fun things. Hell, Tom could even order Wall-E to suicide itself into a missile or enemy target because, lol, it's a drone. So you're going to have one or two pilots in one or two expensive aircraft, backed up by a flight of cheap drone wingman.

Ace Combat is now reality.
 

jsport

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With the age of flat budgets upon us, does the USAF even have the money to embark on developing two new clean sheet fighters at a time? How does the USAF expect to afford developing this a unnecessary ‘budget’ F-16 replacement whilst simultaneously developing a 6th generation superiority fighter (or whatever NGAD is now)? Also, what would each prime even hypothetically offer? This initiative seems very out of the blue, so I doubt they have designs for cheap 4.5 gen fighters ready to go. IF this initiative actually progresses I can see the clean sheet requirement being dropped because of cost savings and development durations, with bids being modified off the shelf fighters. Lockheed will likely just try to persuade the USAF to buy more F-35s instead, with promises of reduced sustainment costs; maybe offering a pimped out F-16V Block 72 out of desperation. Boeing would offer a T-7a with hard points and Northrop would offer...something?
If LM genuinely pimped out F-16V Block 72 w/ all the tricks DoD has already payed for (advcd AESA, Dual IRST, ultra dynamic maneuver w. shoot etc. not to mention an unmanned option rendering it the best loyal wingman conceived) over the decades plus all the necessary F-35 avionics, sensors etc retrofits plus/combined w all capability the Arab countries are already paying for in their new birds, how is that not the hottest bird on the planet?.. DEWs are going to external stores not integrated in stealth platforms for sometime. If ur shooting down all incoming close threats, what you need the, marginal value for the cost, stealth for exactly.
 

jsport

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The Air Force is all over the place on its fighter plans,” one analyst said, with a nearly audible eye roll."
a "son of F-111" NCAD/PCA Digital Series w. ultra low altitude and high altitude capability for infiltration and cruise +BMD LF/RF DEW +EW/Cyber plus multi-role w/ lrg internal bay.

Fighter Bomber
FB-XX bomber/cruise missile/hypersonic multi-purpose missile or UAS mothership

Close Air Support
1. CAS/Penetrating RSTA medium-low altitude gunship w/a large top mounted AESA "canoe" and a bottom mounted AESA "canoe" + wide area hyperspectral/IR/EO (even small IR event geolocation)

2. Maneuverable VTOL w/ 4-6 person cabin for in extremis infil or exfil rescue w/ limited CAS, BAI
 

LMFS

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If LM genuinely pimped out F-16V Block 72 w/ all the tricks DoD has already payed for (advcd AESA, Dual IRST, ultra dynamic maneuver w. shoot etc. not to mention an unmanned option rendering it the best loyal wingman conceived) over the decades plus all the necessary F-35 avionics, sensors etc retrofits plus/combined w all capability the Arab countries are already paying for in their new birds, how is that not the hottest bird on the planet?.. DEWs are going to external stores not integrated in stealth platforms for sometime. If ur shooting down all incoming close threats, what you need the, marginal value for the cost, stealth for exactly.

Indeed. If they want 4.5G then non-stealthy or LO at most is acceptable, such RCS treatment could be done to the F-16 as it has been done to the F-18, in fact this is most likely not done yet on purpose, to avoid threatening the F-35. Additionally, the performance gap of 5G fighters above 4G has been kept artificially high, since the later have not received true state of the art engines. A F-16 with increased wing surface, the weight reductions of a new structure and systems, plus a F135-equivalent engine (say 10tf mil/16 tf max), would be the hottest plane in this world.
 

TomcatViP

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Please don't forget that, first, it's not about finding an alternative to the F-35 and secondly, a lot of the woes celebrated on the F-35 are inherent to the fact that this is a VLO platform (sensors and data fusion).

As such, a lot of the sensors of this new 4.5th Gen would fly embedded with the... F-35 and won't have (and could not have) to be duplicated.

It is easier then to envision the nose over in the cost curve as professed by Brown and see how such extra margin could be a source of extra assets for the force: more range and more mission at equal cost, less mass, less parts, less (and perhaps a drastic fall in) maintenance hours etc... Increasing deployment potential and airborne time.

IMOHO, if a son of It has to be named, my guess would go the A-10: simplified avionics (but at the 21st century scale), multiple mission flown in succession thanks to simplified systems, an unmatched A2A to dance with the Migs, unlimited strafing ammo (laser/HPMW) and of course all the refined weaponry that can be possibly bagged under the wings.
 
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rooster

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If LM genuinely pimped out F-16V Block 72 w/ all the tricks DoD has already payed for (advcd AESA, Dual IRST, ultra dynamic maneuver w. shoot etc. not to mention an unmanned option rendering it the best loyal wingman conceived) over the decades plus all the necessary F-35 avionics, sensors etc retrofits plus/combined w all capability the Arab countries are already paying for in their new birds, how is that not the hottest bird on the planet?.. DEWs are going to external stores not integrated in stealth platforms for sometime. If ur shooting down all incoming close threats, what you need the, marginal value for the cost, stealth for exactly.

Indeed. If they want 4.5G then non-stealthy or LO at most is acceptable, such RCS treatment could be done to the F-16 as it has been done to the F-18, in fact this is most likely not done yet on purpose, to avoid threatening the F-35. Additionally, the performance gap of 5G fighters above 4G has been kept artificially high, since the later have not received true state of the art engines. A F-16 with increased wing surface, the weight reductions of a new structure and systems, plus a F135-equivalent engine (say 10tf mil/16 tf max), would be the hottest plane in this world.
What does being hot matter in a world of hobs missiles? For the last 15 years I've heard all the fighter jocks on f16.net say maneuvering and kinematics is old fashioned when all a mig flyer has to do is look at a target and let loose an aam. You're not going to maneuver behind someone and fire bullets 400 feet out anymore. You cant have it both ways where one thread is full of experts saying with regards to the F-35 that with hobs missiles and sensor fusion maneuvering is dead the and the F-35 doesn't need f22 kinematics to achieve air superiority and then in another thread we need a real hot dog that can out turn anything and accelerate better than anything else.
 

Jimmo952

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When the proposed F16 replacement was proposed, there was mention of an aircraft that could get there faster. I took that to mean super-cruise rather than attempting to have a super-duper dogfighter.
 

TomS

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When the proposed F16 replacement was proposed, there was mention of an aircraft that could get there faster. I took that to mean super-cruise rather than attempting to have a super-duper dogfighter.

I took it that way at first but when you look at the overall context of the statement, "faster" refers to the development cycle, not aircraft performance.
 

jsport

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If LM genuinely pimped out F-16V Block 72 w/ all the tricks DoD has already payed for (advcd AESA, Dual IRST, ultra dynamic maneuver w. shoot etc. not to mention an unmanned option rendering it the best loyal wingman conceived) over the decades plus all the necessary F-35 avionics, sensors etc retrofits plus/combined w all capability the Arab countries are already paying for in their new birds, how is that not the hottest bird on the planet?.. DEWs are going to external stores not integrated in stealth platforms for sometime. If ur shooting down all incoming close threats, what you need the, marginal value for the cost, stealth for exactly.

Indeed. If they want 4.5G then non-stealthy or LO at most is acceptable, such RCS treatment could be done to the F-16 as it has been done to the F-18, in fact this is most likely not done yet on purpose, to avoid threatening the F-35. Additionally, the performance gap of 5G fighters above 4G has been kept artificially high, since the later have not received true state of the art engines. A F-16 with increased wing surface, the weight reductions of a new structure and systems, plus a F135-equivalent engine (say 10tf mil/16 tf max), would be the hottest plane in this world.
What does being hot matter in a world of hobs missiles? For the last 15 years I've heard all the fighter jocks on f16.net say maneuvering and kinematics is old fashioned when all a mig flyer has to do is look at a target and let loose an aam. You're not going to maneuver behind someone and fire bullets 400 feet out anymore. You cant have it both ways where one thread is full of experts saying with regards to the F-35 that with hobs missiles and sensor fusion maneuvering is dead the and the F-35 doesn't need f22 kinematics to achieve air superiority and then in another thread we need a real hot dog that can out turn anything and accelerate better than anything else.

a suped 16 likely carries more missiles and we know what happened to 4s which didnt have guns in the Vietnam opening.
 

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While musing about this I keep thinking its a shame the F-16XL died, that would have made a pretty good 4.5 Gen fighter.

I guess we will have to wait until the study is done. We could speculate all day about the whys and wherefores. To most of us loyal wingmen seem the way to go and perhaps the study will conclude exactly the same.

If it really is just an accountant's whining that's driving this then they are on a hiding to nothing. I very much doubt Tempest or FCAS or F-3 will prove cheaper than F-35 to operate and indeed air forces like the RAF are looking to replace their Gen 4 to 4.5/5 mix with Gen 5/5 by the mid-century.
We don't know China and Russia's exact plans, they only have one Gen 5 fighter each and in relatively low numbers and both are still heavily reliant on Flanker upgrades - for now.
 

helmutkohl

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While musing about this I keep thinking its a shame the F-16XL died, that would have made a pretty good 4.5 Gen fighter.

I guess we will have to wait until the study is done. We could speculate all day about the whys and wherefores. To most of us loyal wingmen seem the way to go and perhaps the study will conclude exactly the same.

If it really is just an accountant's whining that's driving this then they are on a hiding to nothing. I very much doubt Tempest or FCAS or F-3 will prove cheaper than F-35 to operate and indeed air forces like the RAF are looking to replace their Gen 4 to 4.5/5 mix with Gen 5/5 by the mid-century.
We don't know China and Russia's exact plans, they only have one Gen 5 fighter each and in relatively low numbers and both are still heavily reliant on Flanker upgrades - for now.
me too! honestly I strongly felt that the F-16XL would have been a much better base for the Japanese F-2 instead of the F-16 regular, of which its a slightly enlarged version of. the XL better fits the Japanese requirements of needing range and carrying 4 AShMs.
 

LMFS

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What does being hot matter in a world of hobs missiles? For the last 15 years I've heard all the fighter jocks on f16.net say maneuvering and kinematics is old fashioned when all a mig flyer has to do is look at a target and let loose an aam. You're not going to maneuver behind someone and fire bullets 400 feet out anymore. You cant have it both ways where one thread is full of experts saying with regards to the F-35 that with hobs missiles and sensor fusion maneuvering is dead the and the F-35 doesn't need f22 kinematics to achieve air superiority and then in another thread we need a real hot dog that can out turn anything and accelerate better than anything else.
Normally defending what is not intrinsically good happens based on some agenda or personal investment, as soon as there was the decision to show off the F-35 in airshows the same people dismissing TWR and turning abilities as things of the past were happy as children with a new toy and hyping Dojo drift. The reality IMHO is that a fighter has to be able to fight both BVR and WVR, with missiles or cannon, to use awareness and stealth or EW and raw power. Removing any characteristic just creates a weak spot that will be exploited by your rivals. A very lightly built plane like F-16 with a modern engine would complement the force composition which already has great BVR capabilities, and of course excess power and manoeuvrability do no only apply in WVR, quite the opposite since they are crucial to engage, launch and disengage safely. At best such development would have an unmanned version, because such thrust would probably allow to sustain more than 9 g for extended periods of time and no pilot could really use that.
 

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