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LWF Program Cancelled

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Suppose the Air Force higher-ups remained more strongly opposed to the LWF program and it was somehow cancelled, how would this affect the development of the USAF and the aviation industry. And just for discussions sake, suppose the F-18 never comes to fruition as well or is cancelled because of cost overruns like was considered OTL. What does a world without American light or medium fighters look like?
 

BAROBA

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More F-16's? F-16's on Navy ships, it could have happened. F-5 and F-20 would fill in the gap?
F-14's being upgraded a few times more until the F-35 showed up?
There are some possibilities on how things would have gone...
 

apparition13

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The Navy is easier; they get the F-14B, F-14C (attack Tomcat) and A-6 airwing they wanted all along. F-18 development funds go to fixing the F401, developing the attack avionics for the C, and hopefully using some of those funds for the AIM-95 Agile with helmet mounted site. The Agile was cancelled around the time of the F-18, so maybe it wouldn't be here. USMC would take the F-14C.

Moving forward, no F-16 means once F-111 production stops General Dynamics has no combat aircraft, and may be out of the fighter business. Which means the Northrop/Grumman A-12 may be the only game in town, and since their proposal was realistic Congress might be talked into funding it. If it isn't, and the NATF is also cancelled as it was, then Supertomcats happen. Either way, the AIM-152 goes forward since both the NATF and F-14s have the radar capacity to use it.

USAF and the "deal of the century" are more complicated. For USAF, more F-111Fs, more F-15s, maybe F-14Cs to replace F-4s, maybe FBW/CCV F-4s with conformal weapons carriage a la Boeing's superphantom proposals. I suspect the CL1200/X27/CL1600 might go forward; I have more doubt about the P530. The F404 might be DOA, or it might be useful in the potential Superphantoms, in which case the F-20 would likely go forward.

For a couple of wild cards, without the F-16 to replace the A-7, Tornado is a possiblity. Better IMO would be Republic's NGCAS proposed follow up to the A-10.

So maybe the mid-80s USAF would see F-15s and F-20s for air superiority, with some combination of F-111s, Superphantoms, Tornados, NGCAS, and A-10s for attack.

The deal of the century would then likely be Lockheed's CL1200/1600/X27 vs. the Mirage F1, the Viggen, and maybe the P530. It may wind up being none of the above until Mirage 2000 and F-20 show up around 1980.
 

Michel Van

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Without F-16
The Mirage F1 would replace in NATO the F-104 (except Germany Luftwaffe that want twin engine)
i wonder would Boeing repeat there Join venture proposal with Dassault and offer license build F1 to USAF ? (like Boeing license Mirage III proposal)

Other alternative is that Northrop F-5 is developed into the F-20 Tigershark a F-5 build like LWF but that would arrive only to 1980s market
 

Archibald

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Far, far less fighters for both USAF and USN, as the "heavies" were insanely expensives. Without the cheap LWF evolving into attack platforms, the A-7 may have a longer life for both USAF and USN. Supersonic A-7 would be formidable.

As said above - I can't see the United States staying out of the Deal of the Century. Best hope for them would be to re-open IFA with the usual contenders, essentially
- upgraded F-5E
- upgraded Crusader
- upgraded F-104
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Northrop might have got a free run at the European requirement with the P.530 if the YF-16 never happened. By 1974 the P.530 would have something close to the F-18 in size and capability.
 

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The P.530 is one of my favorite aircraft that never got a fair shake, the only issue is most nations will still be wary of a fighter that isn't operated by the US unless it scores significant customers who are willing to overlook this issue. I would say if Germany could be convinced with complete local production and exports in Europe, then at the very least you have the Netherlands and Norway as customers as well, they were initially interested in the P.530 but wouldn't commit. Around this time you also have Australia who was interested in it as well, and with orders secured we have an additional production line there, with New Zealand being a possible buyer from them.

If the LWF gets cancelled and the P.530 still excels, maybe later on down the line with the Reagan build up the Air Force looks at the P.530 as an F-15 complement to replace the A-7 and remaining F-4s that weren't replaced by the larger F-15 buy. Perhaps the PW1120 still comes about and the USAF version gets these engines for commonality with the F100s on the F-15.
 

apparition13

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Far, far less fighters for both USAF and USN, as the "heavies" were insanely expensives. Without the cheap LWF evolving into attack platforms, the A-7 may have a longer life for both USAF and USN. Supersonic A-7 would be formidable.
Perhaps on the Air Force side, but the F-18 wound up costing about as much as an F-14. Finishing development of the F401 and developing the avionics for the F-14C would have resulted in way more capability than the F-18. The F-14C would have replaced the A-7 in Navy service, and likely the F-4 in the Marines, with the F-14B doing the fleet air defense role the A did, only with much better range and performance. I think the Navy would have been better off without the LWF.

The only place I the F-18 was more useful was on the Midways, and even then Phantoms with Boeing's conformal weapons carriage pack could have done the job until Coral Sea and Midway retired. Speaking of which, the Air Force could have used them on their F-4s as well for the strike-fighter role the F-16 wound up doing. Until something eventually comes along to take over. Like perhaps a Grumman/IAI F-16? Lavi*. That would be interesting. Not that the AF would want them, since it wouldn't be an AF design.

*Grumman was going to be doing the wings, so it's the natural US contractor since it was already partnered with IAI on the Lavi.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Maybe the Navy would have got the VFAX it wanted instead of being forced to take the LWF leftovers. I'd suggest Model 263.

xd4c-113410-jun-13-74-jpg.82463
 

Archibald

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Perhaps on the Air Force side, but the F-18 wound up costing about as much as an F-14.

Finishing development of the F401 and developing the avionics for the F-14C would have resulted in way more capability than the F-18. The F-14C would have replaced the A-7 in Navy service, and likely the F-4 in the Marines, with the F-14B doing the fleet air defense role the A did, only with much better range and performance. I think the Navy would have been better off without the LWF.

The only place I the F-18 was more useful was on the Midways, and even then Phantoms with Boeing's conformal weapons carriage pack could have done the job until Coral Sea and Midway retired.

Frack. The Hornet wound up as expensive as a Tomcat ? never realized this before.

And a multirole F-14 could have replaced the A-7 but also the A-6. Plus the Marines. Ain't that bird a little big and expensive for all this ? but since I've just learned that the Hornet as as expensive, my argument is moot...

The only place I the F-18 was more useful was on the Midways, and even then Phantoms with Boeing's conformal weapons carriage pack could have done the job until Coral Sea and Midway retired. Speaking of which, the Air Force could have used them on their F-4s as well for the strike-fighter role the F-16 wound up doing. Until something eventually comes along to take over. Like perhaps a Grumman/IAI F-16? Lavi*. That would be interesting. Not that the AF would want them, since it wouldn't be an AF design.

Maybe the Navy would have got the VFAX it wanted instead of being forced to take the LWF leftovers. I'd suggest Model 263.

Or maybe tweak that a little differently... since the Tomcat would be pretty expensive for the Marines, how about the Convair 200 / 201 VSTOL in place of the F-18 for both USMC and USN ? hence as a successor to the A-7 for USN ? with the advantage (over the F-18, for USMC) it is VSTOL like the Harrier and much less expensive than the Tomcat (for USN).

It would be kind of pre-F35 decades in advance and without USAF... and without stealth. Even with a lift jet stuck into it, it might be a little less compromised than a F-35 and a better aircraft in range, speed, bombload...

F-14B multirole Tomcat
for
- fleet defense
- A-6 replacement later on (although A-6F rocked, shame it was never build).

Convair 200 VSTOL and non-VSTOL 201
for
- A-7 replacement on USN decks (F-18)
- F-4 Phantom replacement on Midways
- F-8 Crusader replacement on the very last Essex (one can dream, no ?)
- USMC supersonic air defense > from USN carriers ( F-18)
- USMC air defence > from amphibs (Harrier II with AMRAAM, F-35)
- Sea Control Ships, obviously (Zumwalt USN, plus Spain, Italy, perhaps GB...)
 
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uk 75

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Boringly I think the answer would have been a mix of F14s/F15s with F4s/A7s.. The Military would wait until the Reagan years and catch up with more F14s/F15s. The interesting question is what would have happened to the strike role (Would A10 have survived? What would F111 replacement for the 80s look like? Perhaps a joint UK/US programme based on Tornaado but with the longer legs the RAF always wanted. The Navy would have cast around for an A7/A6 replacement. Then we get into Stealth territory. Without the F18 F117Ns?
 

apparition13

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Or maybe tweak that a little differently... since the Tomcat would be pretty expensive for the Marines, how about the Convair 200 / 201 VSTOL in place of the F-18 for both USMC and USN ? hence as a successor to the A-7 for USN ? with the advantage (over the F-18, for USMC) it is VSTOL like the Harrier and much less expensive than the Tomcat (for USN).

It would be kind of pre-F35 decades in advance and without USAF... and without stealth. Even with a lift jet stuck into it, it might be a little less compromised than a F-35 and a better aircraft in range, speed, bombload...

F-14B multirole Tomcat
for
- fleet defense
- A-6 replacement later on (although A-6F rocked, shame it was never build).

Convair 200 VSTOL and non-VSTOL 201
for
- A-7 replacement on USN decks (F-18)
- F-4 Phantom replacement on Midways
- F-8 Crusader replacement on the very last Essex (one can dream, no ?)
- USMC supersonic air defense > from USN carriers ( F-18)
- USMC air defence > from amphibs (Harrier II with AMRAAM, F-35)
- Sea Control Ships, obviously (Zumwalt USN, plus Spain, Italy, perhaps GB...)
The F-14B was in the 70s what it was in the 90s, an A with the engine it was designed for (F401 in 70s, F110 in 90s). It wasn't multirole. The C, which wound up being skipped entirely, was either a B with additional attack capability, or maybe it would have to lose some of the air to air, perhaps the phoenix, to fit the never developed attack avionics. I haven't actually seen whether the C avionics with in addition to or in place of the A/B fit. D was multi-role, and the SuperTomcats I'm again unsure about, since just like the B and C, I haven't read whether the Attack SuperTomcat 21 was a Supertomcat 21 with attack capability or a different avionics kit that had to delete some air to air capability. I presume the Advanced Strike Fighter 14, with ATF avionics and engines, would have been multirole. And without the F-18 we should have seen the supertomcats, and maybe the ASF-14 if NATF and A/FX were cancelled again.

I do love the idea of the 200, and Spangenberg says out of the AV-16, XFV-12 and 200, the 200 was the only one to meet all the requirements*, but the Navy opted for the XFV-12, which Spangenberg says had zero range in VTOL. I presume it was a cross your fingers and hope choice**, maybe out of a desire for less deck heating than the 200 would have caused. I hate to think what lift jets would have done to the Oriskany's deck. Midway and Coral Sea could have handled it though.

But the reason I really like the 200 is it increases experience with and development of VSTOL, and maybe might lead to the Vought 120, which I really like, assuming the tandem-fan design could work.

*Here's Spangenberg:
Needed are at least minimum levels of speed, payload, range, and operating environment. Two of the V/STOL projects are supersonic and designed primarily for a fighter mission while the other is a subsonic attack aircraft intended for Marine use. It is clear that the advanced Harrier, AV-16, cannot accomplish the mission for which the Convair Model 200 was designed, although the converse is not necessarily true. The FV-12, on the basis of NAVAIR estimates, is incapable of performing either mission. These three projects may be competitive from a budgetary standpoint, but are certainly not from a mission viewpoint.

**I think it's the same reason they didn't try to sell congress on the Northrop and Grumman A-12. The Navy thought their proposal was realistic and the GD-MD one was wishful thinking, but rather than try and sell Congress on a realistic proposal that was more than Congress wanted to spend they ran with the unrealistic proposal and prayed the program wouldn't balloon. Which it did.
Boringly I think the answer would have been a mix of F14s/F15s with F4s/A7s.. The Military would wait until the Reagan years and catch up with more F14s/F15s. The interesting question is what would have happened to the strike role (Would A10 have survived? What would F111 replacement for the 80s look like? Perhaps a joint UK/US programme based on Tornaado but with the longer legs the RAF always wanted. The Navy would have cast around for an A7/A6 replacement. Then we get into Stealth territory. Without the F18 F117Ns?
The A-10 was a go at the time, so it would have continued. The A-10B may have been more attractive without the F-16, as would the A-7F. But really, at this point we would be looking at an 80s program to create a multirole A-7 replacement. Fairchild-Republics NGCAS (next generation CAS) proposal looked interesting. It had canards (but not a delta), looks transonic if not supersonic, and carried the GAU8. Basically a transonic A-10 with some figher capability.

As an iterative design of the F117, F117N would have been interesting. I wonder if it could actually could have been adapted to carrier ops. It certainly would have helped with stealth/carrier interoperability.

For the fighter role, there is the F-20 (though I don't know about the F404 without the F-18), but for an actual F-16 type I think the Lavi would really be the ideal, though I don't know if it would have a ventral inlet without the example of the F-16 to follow. Although if you want an interdictor, there is the Viggen wild card. Not that the US would buy it, but NATO members looking to replace F-104s flying attack and strike missions? It would be a great fit, with STOL and dispersed operational capability built in.
 

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For the deal of the Century - Viggen vs Jaguar vs Mirage F1 vs an american aircraft, but which one ? Vought V-1000 was paper only, Lockheed CL-1200 was mockup only, leaving the 1970 IFA winner - the F-5E Tiger II - as the one and only solid-metal answer.
So a third generation F-5 that is not a F-20 ?
I'm thinking of a F-20 lookalike ten years before, and with a twist: a GE YJ101 instead of a F-404. This would also integrate, somewhat, the aborted P-530 / F-17 / F-18 lineage back into the F-5 / F-20 line of development.

Wasn't there a "big wing F-5" project at some point ? How would a YJ101 fit into a F-5 airframe ?
 

Archibald

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As for the XVF-12 it was doomed from the drawing board by NAR naive enthusiasm for the technology it used (can't remember the exact name, only that it bleeded air and hot gases all across the airframe only to reveal 1/3rd of the hoped performance, and the XVF-12 never flew except hanged below the LM test rig at NASA Langley).

The issue with the AV-16 is the same as with all direct derivatives, supersonic Harriers studied post P.1154 and pre P.1216 (these two being definitively non-Harrier designs).
Basically the Harrier needs a huge compressor for its Pegasus to provide all that cold air to lift the front end of the aircraft (the rear end being lifted by the jet exhaust hot gases). In order to provide cold air to both Pegasus jet plus the two cold air, front exhaust, the compressor needs to be very large in diameter... turning the intakes into big "elephant ears" Dumbo like draggy things, making supersonic flight very hard.

What is really interesting with the Convair 200 is that the Yak-41 somewhat proved the concept to be quite workable, even with the lift-jet well know flaws > hot gases ingestion, obviously, plus the massive fuel consumpton of a trijet combat aircraft.

I can really see the Convair 200 pulling a Yak-41 / F-35 in the late 70's, and displacing the F-18 in the process - either as a naval LWF without the lift jets (201) or a USMC multirole bird mixing AV-8B and F-18D into the same airframe. Incidentally, by 1972 OTL the Convair 201 was pitched against the F-18 for VFAX, but lost !

In my space TL where the Shuttle dies late 1971, the agonizing Lockheed rebound on this, and lands two massive contracts that save the company.

Contract 1 if for the Agena rocket stage as an ubiquitous space tug.

Contract 2 is for a reborn NF-104A Aerospace Trainer, a suborbital, improved Starfighter with a rocket in the tail they call the F-120. This to train future astronauts to glided landings for a future Shuttle II to come in the 80's.

Lockheed then use NASA F-120 money to fund the CL-1200 Lancer beyond the mockup stage. They blend it with the last F-104 production line in the world: FIAT F-104S, the AIM-7-Sparrow-armed Starfighter that did not stopped until 1979.

Italy then become a "trojan horse" for the F-120 to enter the Deal of the Century, and Lockheed manage to send the program into chaos when they seduce Norway and Denmark into rebuilding their old F-104G into brand-new F-120s.

The Deal of the Century then implodes, with Belgium going for the F1-M53, leaving the Netherlands in a conundrum that end with them buying F-17s, then F-18L, with Northrop not screwed thrice, F-20 included, in ten years.
 
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Archibald

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The F-14B was in the 70s what it was in the 90s, an A with the engine it was designed for (F401 in 70s, F110 in 90s). It wasn't multirole. The C, which wound up being skipped entirely, was either a B with additional attack capability, or maybe it would have to lose some of the air to air, perhaps the phoenix, to fit the never developed attack avionics. I haven't actually seen whether the C avionics with in addition to or in place of the A/B fit. D was multi-role, and the SuperTomcats I'm again unsure about, since just like the B and C, I haven't read whether the Attack SuperTomcat 21 was a Supertomcat 21 with attack capability or a different avionics kit that had to delete some air to air capability. I presume the Advanced Strike Fighter 14, with ATF avionics and engines, would have been multirole. And without the F-18 we should have seen the supertomcats, and maybe the ASF-14 if NATF and A/FX were cancelled again.

Indeed I thought about the "multirole Tomcats" that Cheney "aborted" in the 90's - except developed from the F-14B in the 70's, not from the F-14D in the 90's. that was what I had in my mind. With better engines and thanks to its VG wings a multirole Tomcat could eventually replace the A-6E without a need for the A-6F in the 80's.

Incidentally, a mixed fleet of A-7F and A-10B for CAS would be completely awesome. Far more exciting than boring F-16s.
 
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Archibald

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So here is my own take at such a scenario...

Without a LWF, USN and USAF original plan would be "a crapload of F-15s" and "a boatload of F-14s, Marines included".
Except that would be too expensive. Waaaay too expensive.

What would save the day (and somewhat fill the F-16 & F-18 numbers) would be Zumwalt and the Deal of the Century.

Basically the Convair 200 vs an earlier F-20 with a J101.

The Convair 200 would pull a Yak-41 first, then a F-35, and become a multirole USMC / USN cheap fighter, somewhat ironically like a naval F-16 !

This would free the F-14 to evolve, first into the ultimate fleet defence fighter it was to be, and later on, toward an A-6E replacement for long range naval strike, so no A-6F, ever (shame, because that bird would have been completely awesome. But the lack of F-404 from a non-existing F-18 would doom it a second time in that scenario).

Meanwhile "USAF all weather / more capable CAS platform" would see a battle between the twin-seat Warthog - A-10B - and an earlier A-7F, perhaps with a reheated Allison TF41 (hello, British Phantoms !).

So the USN / USMC "F-18 gap" of cheap / lightweight / low-end F-14 multirole would be solved.

Then USAF would face a similar issue without the F-16: something has to bring the gap between the insanely expensive F-15 and the cheap, rugged CAS fleet made of A-10, A-10B and A-7F.

Contenders would be a land-based Convair 201 (202 !) vs that 3rd generation F-5 with the J101. Which would need USAF massive buy in order to even remeotely survive the European onslaught. Really a difficult choice for USAf there... J101 is not very good when Convair 200 has a more advanced turbofan, but the cheap and dirty J101-F20 could be a high end to the CAS fleet even more than OTL F-16s. Plus deal of the Century and NIH syndroma, a naval aircraft, the horror, the horror.
That J101-F20 lookalike is really the key of the entire story.


General characteristics
  • Length: 3.530m
  • Diameter: 829mm
  • Dry weight: 820kg
  • Length: 154 in (390 cm)
  • Diameter: 35 in (89 cm)
  • Dry weight: 2,282 lb (1,035 kg)
  • Length: 45.4–51.1 in (115–130 cm) without afterburner (depending on accessory equipment installed)
  • Diameter: 17.7 in (45 cm)
  • Dry weight: 396–421 lb (180–191 kg) (depending on accessory equipment installed)
 
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uk 75

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Interesting.
I still see the F4 being run on in the fighter and Wild Weasel roles as with the Luftwaffe and IDF.
The single seater needs of the BE, CA, DK, NL, NO would have been Viggens for DK and NO. Mirage F1 for BE. My own view is that CAand NL would have gone for the FRG Phantom F4E.
The US Marines might have stuck with F4s rather than F14s.
A6 and F111 to end of Cold War.
As in real life, VSTOL remains too impractical except for Harriers.
 

Pioneer

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Perhaps on the Air Force side, but the F-18 wound up costing about as much as an F-14.

Finishing development of the F401 and developing the avionics for the F-14C would have resulted in way more capability than the F-18. The F-14C would have replaced the A-7 in Navy service, and likely the F-4 in the Marines, with the F-14B doing the fleet air defense role the A did, only with much better range and performance. I think the Navy would have been better off without the LWF.

The only place I the F-18 was more useful was on the Midways, and even then Phantoms with Boeing's conformal weapons carriage pack could have done the job until Coral Sea and Midway retired.

Frack. The Hornet wound up as expensive as a Tomcat ? never realized this before.

And a multirole F-14 could have replaced the A-7 but also the A-6. Plus the Marines. Ain't that bird a little big and expensive for all this ? but since I've just learned that the Hornet as as expensive, my argument is moot...

The only place I the F-18 was more useful was on the Midways, and even then Phantoms with Boeing's conformal weapons carriage pack could have done the job until Coral Sea and Midway retired. Speaking of which, the Air Force could have used them on their F-4s as well for the strike-fighter role the F-16 wound up doing. Until something eventually comes along to take over. Like perhaps a Grumman/IAI F-16? Lavi*. That would be interesting. Not that the AF would want them, since it wouldn't be an AF design.

Maybe the Navy would have got the VFAX it wanted instead of being forced to take the LWF leftovers. I'd suggest Model 263.

Or maybe tweak that a little differently... since the Tomcat would be pretty expensive for the Marines, how about the Convair 200 / 201 VSTOL in place of the F-18 for both USMC and USN ? hence as a successor to the A-7 for USN ? with the advantage (over the F-18, for USMC) it is VSTOL like the Harrier and much less expensive than the Tomcat (for USN).

It would be kind of pre-F35 decades in advance and without USAF... and without stealth. Even with a lift jet stuck into it, it might be a little less compromised than a F-35 and a better aircraft in range, speed, bombload...

F-14B multirole Tomcat
for
- fleet defense
- A-6 replacement later on (although A-6F rocked, shame it was never build).

Convair 200 VSTOL and non-VSTOL 201
for
- A-7 replacement on USN decks (F-18)
- F-4 Phantom replacement on Midways
- F-8 Crusader replacement on the very last Essex (one can dream, no ?)
- USMC supersonic air defense > from USN carriers ( F-18)
- USMC air defence > from amphibs (Harrier II with AMRAAM, F-35)
- Sea Control Ships, obviously (Zumwalt USN, plus Spain, Italy, perhaps GB...)

Yeah, I like your analogy of the Convair 200 / 201!. Keeping in mind that the USMC also canned the idea of the A-7 Corsair for its ORBAT on the basis it was both expensive and more complicated and so supported the notion and want of an improvement A-4 Skyhawk - which became the A-4M Skyhawk II.

Regards
Pioneer
 

Flying Sorcerer

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I recall the General Accounting Office of Congress reported around 1980 that an F-18 would cost within $100,000 of an F-14 because it was developed in an inflationary era. The GAO recommended that the F-18 be cancelled as an all F-14 fleet would be more effective and cheaper than the mixed F-14/F-18 inventory the USN got stuck with. Hail the power of union/contractor lobbies!
 

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kaiserd

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I recall the General Accounting Office of Congress reported around 1980 that an F-18 would cost within $100,000 of an F-14 because it was developed in an inflationary era. The GAO recommended that the F-18 be cancelled as an all F-14 fleet would be more effective and cheaper than the mixed F-14/F-18 inventory the USN got stuck with. Hail the power of union/contractor lobbies!
I’m a big fan of the F-14 but that train of thought is deeply flawed and has more than a bit of wishful thinking involved.
The F/A-18 came to be as about as expensive as the F-14A. However a multi-role F-14 with decent engines and equivalent multi-role avionics as the F/A-18 would have inevitably been considerably more expensive than the F/A-18.
There was a valid argument to have been had re: potential cost/ capability/ numbers trade-offs but let’s not make invalid/ misleading comparisons or use incorrect/ misleading information.
 

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So here is my own take at such a scenario...

Without a LWF, USN and USAF original plan would be "a crapload of F-15s" and "a boatload of F-14s, Marines included".
Except that would be too expensive. Waaaay too expensive.

What would save the day (and somewhat fill the F-16 & F-18 numbers) would be Zumwalt and the Deal of the Century.

Basically the Convair 200 vs an earlier F-20 with a J101.

The Convair 200 would pull a Yak-41 first, then a F-35, and become a multirole USMC / USN cheap fighter, somewhat ironically like a naval F-16 !

This would free the F-14 to evolve, first into the ultimate fleet defence fighter it was to be, and later on, toward an A-6E replacement for long range naval strike, so no A-6F, ever (shame, because that bird would have been completely awesome. But the lack of F-404 from a non-existing F-18 would doom it a second time in that scenario).

Meanwhile "USAF all weather / more capable CAS platform" would see a battle between the twin-seat Warthog - A-10B - and an earlier A-7F, perhaps with a reheated Allison TF41 (hello, British Phantoms !).

So the USN / USMC "F-18 gap" of cheap / lightweight / low-end F-14 multirole would be solved.

Then USAF would face a similar issue without the F-16: something has to bring the gap between the insanely expensive F-15 and the cheap, rugged CAS fleet made of A-10, A-10B and A-7F.

Contenders would be a land-based Convair 201 (202 !) vs that 3rd generation F-5 with the J101. Which would need USAF massive buy in order to even remeotely survive the European onslaught. Really a difficult choice for USAf there... J101 is not very good when Convair 200 has a more advanced turbofan, but the cheap and dirty J101-F20 could be a high end to the CAS fleet even more than OTL F-16s. Plus deal of the Century and NIH syndroma, a naval aircraft, the horror, the horror.
That J101-F20 lookalike is really the key of the entire story.

Coming back to this with some more thoughts of my own, I really like the Convair 200/201 and it would be a good way for GD to get some business without the F-16 coming to fruition, but I don't think the USAF would ever willingly go for another Navy aircraft unless forced. The same goes for any V/STOL aircraft as it runs totally contrary to their mindset so all those cool 80s projects from various manufacturers are unlikely as well.

For the Navy and Marines without the F-18 the Convair 200/201 is a definite go, the Navy gets the CTOL variant to supplement the Tomcat and replace the remaining A-7s while the Marine Corps would operate a mix of CTOL and VSTOL variants to replace their A-4s and Harriers as well as supplementing their F-14C that replaced Phantoms ITTL. This would also give impetus towards and funding for the F401 so the Tomcat gets it's intended engine sooner and it would share engines with the Convair 200 (name?). I think in this situation we also would have the F101 DFE come about as an alternate engine choice. The A-6F is also rather unlikely as Boeing discovered adverse effects on the airframe and increased stress when they added the new composite wing.

I think this proto F-20 would be a good aircraft for export and maybe the ANG but would be a bit too low tier for active USAF to consider, especially considering a TL where they shunted low tech aircraft before. And the CTOL Convair would be a no-go unless it was forced on them by Congress because it is a Navy aircraft. Honestly I think Fairchild's NGCAS would fit the bill for higher capability attack aircraft to replace the A-7, along with upgraded Phantoms to continue on until they are replaced by more F-15s. Maybe somewhere in here we could see Rockwell's HiMAT studies be turned into a production aircraft, there were several concepts from them for light interceptors/attack aircraft derived from those studies which may well be more appealing without the F-16 but lacking the export fighter stigma of an upgraded F-5. Maybe the FB-111H wins out over the B-1, we should also consider the implications on future stealth programs as well. Maybe ATF goes on like normal or it is more multi-role, what about MRF/JAST/JSF?
 
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riggerrob

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You folks are forgetting about cost. The USA was one of the few countries that could afford large, twin-engined, two crew fighters. Meanwhile, most other NATO nations struggled to fund a few hundred smaller single-seaters.
May I suggest a purely-fictional F-5/F-20 variant with a delta wing, vaguely resembling th F-16XL the larger wing could hold enough fuel to make it practical for defending Canada’s Arctic.
 
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kaiserd

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You folks are forgetting about cost. The USA was one of the few countries that could afford large, two crew fighters. Meanwhile, most other NATO nations struggled to fund a few hundred smaller single-seaters.
May I suggest a purely-fictional F-5/F-20 variant with a delta wing, vaguely resembling th F-16XL the larger wing could hold enough fuel to make it practical for defending Canada’s Arctic.

To misquote Voltaire, if the F-16 didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent the F-16.
 

Archibald

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To misquote Voltaire

As long as you don't quote (or misquote) Rousseau, I'm fine.
...
I HATE Rousseau. That man was a disgusting human being.

. Honestly I think Fairchild's NGCAS would fit the bill for higher capability attack aircraft to replace the A-7, along with upgraded Phantoms to continue on until they are replaced by more F-15s.

Why not the A-7F ? or, even better, Convair 201 vs A-7F vs NGCAS vs alt F-20 ? and yes, all four can evolve into... a LWF.
 

Keyboard Commando

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I am very much a fan of the A-7F but the Air Force only bought it because of an urgent CAS requirement in Vietnam and after the war it was very quickly shoved off to the ANG, even without the F-16 we still have institutional opposition towards it because it was a Navy plane. That being said they weren't huge fans of the A-10 or it's mission but to them at the very least it was their own and it prevented Army fixed wing CAS aircraft. We could however see the Navy potentially buying it in lieu of the Convair by nature of it being cheaper which is surely a consideration with a larger F-14 fleet.

NGCAS would dovetail nicely with a mostly F-15 fleet without being seen as a threat to other programs. Supersonic dash and greater maneuverability would give it far greater survivability over less permissive environments than the A-10 as well as having better self-defense capabilities, but not so much that it could threaten the F-15 like the F-16 did. The A-10 could be used for COIN like it has been while NGCAS could be used in higher threat areas.

Our alt-J101 powered F-20(maybe with mid-mounted wing) would most likely be used as an aggressor and LIFT in US service, and with a larger F-15 fleet at most I could see the ANG getting some to keep the F-15s with TAC. Even with small buys domestically I think this would make it a much more successful export plane.
 

Archibald

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I am very much a fan of the A-7F but the Air Force only bought it because of an urgent CAS requirement in Vietnam and after the war it was very quickly shoved off to the ANG, even without the F-16 we still have institutional opposition towards it because it was a Navy plane.

slight nitpicking: you seems to be confusing the subsonic A-7D (which entered service for USAF) with the supersonic A-7F of which only two were build.

I think that if the F-16 does not happen, the A-7D and A-7F have better chance of staying in service or entering service. The A-7 was ugly but had outstanding performance.

interesting detail: Vought proposed that the A-7F would not be new aircraft but actually rebuild machines. Even if supersonic, and even with a new engine - screw the Allison US-Spey TF41, long live the F101.

In the absence of the F-16, those rebuild A-7D into A-7F make even more sense, and even even more sense if no F101 but a reheated TF41 - hello, British Phantoms.

NGCAS would dovetail nicely with a mostly F-15 fleet without being seen as a threat to other programs. (1) Supersonic dash and (2) greater maneuverability would give (3) it far greater survivability over less permissive environments than the A-10 as well as (4) having better self-defense capabilities, but (5) not so much that it could threaten the F-15 like the F-16 did.

The A-7F can achieve all this (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) without being a new design, nor even a new aircraft (see above) and even as the son of the Crusader, it won't be any threat to the F-15 whatsoever.

It dawned on me, if the ANG gets both F-20 and A-7F it will be one hell of a terrific force.
 
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overscan (PaulMM)

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The USAF in 1966 wanted to buy F-5s for the CAS role with a secondary day air defence capability, they never wanted the A-7, it was imposed on them. Incidentally, this is fairly much where they slotted the F-16A, instead of the YF-16's intended pure fighter mission.

If they'd been able to buy the F-5 when they wanted to, LWF might not have happened. Presumably, more capability would have been added to the F-5s, or perhaps stopgap F-5s would have been replaced by (single engine?) P-530.
 

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Interesting. Give more weight to that J101 F-20 (incidentally not named F-20 if 16 / 17 /18 not taken... back to F-5G then ? and Tiger III maybe ?).

So, F-5G Tiger III anybody ?
- or F-13 perhaps ?
- or (what an irony !!) F-16 ? not sure about the later, it could be taken by the Convair 200.
- so F-17 ? another irony, a multilayered one in this case (Cobra, YF-17, F -18L, Hornet... F-20 !!!)
 

apparition13

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To misquote Voltaire, if the F-16 didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent the F-16.

Israel and Sweden were on it. Both the Lavi and Gripen programs started in the late '70s.

To misquote Voltaire

As long as you don't quote (or misquote) Rousseau, I'm fine.

...

I HATE Rousseau. That man was a disgusting human being.

. Honestly I think Fairchild's NGCAS would fit the bill for higher capability attack aircraft to replace the A-7, along with upgraded Phantoms to continue on until they are replaced by more F-15s.

Why not the A-7F ? or, even better, Convair 201 vs A-7F vs NGCAS vs alt F-20 ? and yes, all four can evolve into... a LWF.
The 201 (and vstol 200) and the F-20 pretty much fit the same niche as the LWF, if not quite having the attack ability of the multirole F-16. I think the NGCAS looks to be a decent dogfighter, but I don't think it would be in the LWF class. The A-7F is capable of self-defense, unlike the A-7, but it's still a ways from being a fighter.


NGCAS would dovetail nicely with a mostly F-15 fleet without being seen as a threat to other programs. (1) Supersonic dash and (2) greater maneuverability would give (3) it far greater survivability over less permissive environments than the A-10 as well as (4) having better self-defense capabilities, but (5) not so much that it could threaten the F-15 like the F-16 did.

The A-7F can achieve all this (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) without being a new design, nor even a new aircraft (see above) and even as the son of the Crusader, it won't be any threat to the F-15 whatsoever.

It dawned on me, if the ANG gets both F-20 and A-7F it will be one hell of a terrific force.
F20 and A7F would be a nice force in the real world, but the reason I raised the NGCAS in the first place in terms of this thread concept is that it combines the best features of both the A7F and the A10. LIke the A-10 it has two engines, which are separated by about the width of an engine (it's clearer on the patent scans in the NGCAS thread) so one hit can't take both out, it's armored, it carries the GAU-8, and it can fly low and slow. Like the A-7F it is transonic, which means it has faster transit times and less time over target in contested environments. It also looks like it might be a better dogfighter than either, so it would have enhanced self-defense capability if bounced, while also appealing to the fighter-jocks in the airforce. So you take the firepower and ability to take damage of the A-10 and combine it with the strike and interdiction ability and speed of the A-7, and then throw in some "I'd rather not tangle with that if I don't have to" fighter ability and - well, opportunity missed.

I think of the Lavi similarly, as a fusion of the A-7 and the F-16. It basically was designed as an attack aircraft capable of strike, interdiction, and CAS, like the A-7 was, while also having the F-16's air combat ability. It's kind of like a reverse Gripen, an attack aircraft with fighter ability vs. a fighter with attack ability.

A bit off topic, but in the real world rather than the counterfactual of this thread, the A-7F should have been an no brainer. 350 or so of them could have been had for less than 2 billion. It would have been a terrific reserve plane.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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The US Air Force shuffled its A-7s off to the ANG as soon as it could replace them. I can't imagine them liking it any better in this alternate timeline - it would still be a Navy plane that was dedicated to attack they were forced to buy against their will. ANG may have appreciated it though?
 
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zen

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I thought the Lavi was more an institutional successor to the Skyhawk?
 

Archibald

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The US Air Force shuffled its A-7s off to the ANG as soon as it could replace them. I can't imagine them liking it any better in this alternate timeline - it would still be a Navy plane that was dedicated to attack they were forced to buy against their will. ANG may have appreciated it though?


Shame for the A-7F but fair enough. Can't see Convair 201 either, same reasons. So ok, NGCAS vs alt-F20...
 

Archibald

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I thought the Lavi was more an institutional successor to the Skyhawk?

Can't see USAF buying that bird, a foreign one. Plus Lavi drew heavily from F-16, so it might take a different shape or not exists at all.
 

apparition13

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I thought the Lavi was more an institutional successor to the Skyhawk?
It was, but it had A-7 like bomb loads and range (or even A-6 like range depending on the source), to which F-16 like maneuverability was added. It started out as a straightforward A-4 replacement with greater range and payload, but then mission creep. A multi-role aircraft made more sense given the air defense needs Israel had in '73.

In a '67 like scenario they would attack air bases while F-15s flew top cover, then switch to CAS and interdiction. In a '73 scenario they would join the F-15s in air defense, then switch to attack when Israel had achieved enough of an air advantage to spare them for attack missions. And something like the Osirak raid would have been routine given the Lavis range. Raid on the Sun is a really good book that gets across how difficult a mission that was with F-16s and how many months of planning it took to pull off. With Lavis though? "And hopefully we have enough fumes to make it back" becomes "40% fuel remaining? Shall we divert to Crete to celebrate?".

Which is also why Israel was interested in the F-16xl; it was a longer ranged F-16, which is what they needed. Hence the conformal fuel tanks on their F-16s. And with the F-35, which like the Lavi is an attack aircraft capable of air defense, they finally have what they wanted all along.
The US Air Force shuffled its A-7s off to the ANG as soon as it could replace them. I can't imagine them liking it any better in this alternate timeline - it would still be a Navy plane that was dedicated to attack they were forced to buy against their will. ANG may have appreciated it though?

Shame for the A-7F but fair enough. Can't see Convair 201 either, same reasons. So ok, NGCAS vs alt-F20...
That's not really a versus, that's a complementary pair that would look really good in Army Air Force colors. :)

Although if we're talking complementary pairs, how about Convair 200 and Harrier? NATO actually gets the vstol aircraft they wanted in the 60s.
 

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I don't understand how the Lavi could get such a range considering that it was pretty small (10 tons), the air intake was as draggy as a F-16 and the PW1120 was a big engine - was it really optimized for low fuel consumption ?

The delta wing surely allowed more fuel than conventional swept (ask the Mirages) but then again, it was only 33m2.

I know that the M53 was suboptimal, but compared (for example) to a Mirage 2000N/D, Lavi range is rather surprising, closer from a Mirage 4000 which is 50% bigger.

 

zen

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I don't understand how the Lavi could get such a range considering that it was pretty small (10 tons), the air intake was as draggy as a F-16 and the PW1120 was a big engine - was it really optimized for low fuel consumption ?

The delta wing surely allowed more fuel than conventional swept (ask the Mirages) but then again, it was only 33m2.

I know that the M53 was suboptimal, but compared (for example) to a Mirage 2000N/D, Lavi range is rather surprising, closer from a Mirage 4000 which is 50% bigger.

Really big drop tanks.....and lots of them.
The minus was the drag increases and pylons taken up....along with the hidden G-Limits.
But come the need to could jettison that lot and return to a clean fighter.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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PW1120 was probably less fuel efficient than the F100 as the fan was cut down and it was a lower bypass ratio. It also had a lower fuel fraction than the F-16. It did have giant external fuel tanks I guess?
 
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