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RAeS webinar: The Supply of Future Combat Aircraft. 29 July 2020

CJGibson

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Mike,

Will it be available online after the event?

I'll be on nightshift and tucked up at that time and, much as I love your stuff, will be getting zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs.

Chris
 

Mike Pryce

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Mike Pryce

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Yes. Will go on YouTube, but with no chance to join in the Q&A that the livecast has.
 

CJGibson

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Excellent. I will catch up later.

Registered.

Thanks

Chris
 

Mike Pryce

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Great. Yes, any Q's, you know how to get me.

No snark on the Covid hair though. 1977 lives!
 

CJGibson

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Rig Medic does my Barnet, so can't comment on others. I don't ask where his clippers have been.

Chris
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Just finished watching this - thanks Mike, it was very interesting.

The Lightweight Fighter competition got it right in so many areas. In many respects the F-16 was rather conventional and low cost in design, with vary carefully selected advanced technologies with specific practical benefits. Unnecessary complexity was something to be avoided at all costs and produceability and maintainability were key design drivers.

It would be interesting to see a similar effort today.
 

Mike Pryce

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Thanks Paul. A lot of issues. Yes, ignoring Boyd etc. I think Hillaker did a lot of good work
 

red admiral

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It would be interesting to see a similar effort today.
F-35A without the B and CV variants? Pushes senior fusion for improved operational effectiveness through better SA. Most other characteristics/features to do with limiting or reducing costs vs F-22.

I'm having a ponder over what lessons can be taken from the Phantom and Hunter examples to apply to future programmes.
 

Mike Pryce

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Thanks Paul. A lot of issues. Yes, ignoring Boyd etc. I think Hillaker did a lot of good work
It would be interesting to see a similar effort today.
F-35A without the B and CV variants? Pushes senior fusion for improved operational effectiveness through better SA. Most other characteristics/features to do with limiting or reducing costs vs F-22.

I'm having a ponder over what lessons can be taken from the Phantom and Hunter examples to apply to future programmes.
In both cases alternative ways of international working were achieved. Both are normally seen as national projects, but oddly the traditional collaborative approach of Tornado etc. is often more contorted by nationalist manouvering.

The Phantom worked because it started off with basic radar from the Douglas F4D and a wizzo in place of the MA1 complexities of the F106. It also got low drag missiles without a weapons bay.

Ultimately it is what makes sense for a new project that will get the best result. That is a conversation rather than a post.
 

marauder2048

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Thanks Paul. A lot of issues.
Yeah...I’m only 20 minutes in and this webinar is factually, historically and analytically wrong on so many levels.

The F-4 as the winner of the century series is a hilariously bad mischaracterization of history; the Air Force
acceded to McNamara's imposition in exchange for F-X being funded. McNamara's analytical basis for
the imposition was subsequently shown to be flawed. The F-4 went through so many variations (at least 7 different wings)
to the point that the TISEO equipped slat-birds were practically different aircraft to the early models.

Nobody knew how to build supersonic aircraft in the century-series time period. And of course, the Century Series
models were designed for very different, specific purposes mainly nuclear attack and nuclear defense.

Quite how any of that is relevant to today is not explained.

The claim that CFD is not predictive of flight data in the supersonic maneuvering envelope is totally without evidence esp:

Dem/Val was not a fly-off for ATF so another mischaracterization.

It was in fact based on sealed envelope predictions where CFD and wind tunnel test results were submitted ahead of time.
Those submissions were then checked against actual flight test data.



So Dem/Val was about the company that had the more mature tools since It was recognized that the final submissions would be
different than the YF-22 and the YF-23. And in fact the final version for the F-23 was very different and much more F-22 like.

The claim that Dem/Val flight testing motivated changes in the full scale development contract reqs is not well supported since the
RFP for full scale developmentwas released while the YF-22 and YF-23 were still flying and the contractors
submitted their final FSD proposals before the jets were even cool.


There were of course requirements refinements during Dem/Val but that almost all before flight testing e.g. STOL which
was dropped because F-15 STOL experiments demonstrated that the costs were prohibitive. Nothing competitive about that.


Claims about O&S breakdowns are not accurate; the F-16 for example is dominated by personnel costs not maintenance costs.

The F-35 is O&S breakdown:

  • 30% unit personnel
  • 33% maintenance
  • 14% operations
  • 14% sustaining support
  • 8% continuing system improvements.
  • 1% misc

The claims that STEM graduates are fungible between development and maintenance is bizarre and unsupported.

The claim that 70% of Life cycle costs are O&S was based old, flawed studies that used an amalgamation of
estimates of O&S and not actuals see:

“Investigation Into the Ratio of Operating and Support Costs to Life-Cycle Costs for DoD Weapon Systems”

It’s more like 50:50 even for fighters
 

Mike Pryce

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Thanks Paul. A lot of issues.
Yeah...I’m only 20 minutes in and this webinar is factually, historically and analytically wrong on so many levels. I am sorry you feel that way, but hopefully the comments below show where I am coming from.

The F-4 as the winner of the century series is a hilariously bad mischaracterization of history; the Air Force
acceded to McNamara's imposition in exchange for F-X being funded. McNamara's analytical basis for
the imposition was subsequently shown to be flawed. The F-4 went through so many variations (at least 7 different wings)
to the point that the TISEO equipped slat-birds were practically different aircraft to the early models. This is my point. The F-4 was adaptable where the others were not. The politics were not good, sure, butt he outcome was better for the USAF than pressing on with the F-105 would have been.

Nobody knew how to build supersonic aircraft in the century-series time period. And of course, the Century Series
models were designed for very different, specific purposes mainly nuclear attack and nuclear defense. Exactly my point.

Quite how any of that is relevant to today is not explained. There is much talk of a 'Digital Century Series'. It may be misleading (and the digital part especially so)

The claim that CFD is not predictive of flight data in the supersonic maneuvering envelope is totally without evidence esp: It's why you need to go into a wind tunnel or flight test. Even an airliner in a turn is hard to predict precisely with CFD.

Dem/Val was not a fly-off for ATF so another mischaracterization.

It was in fact based on sealed envelope predictions where CFD and wind tunnel test results were submitted ahead of time.
Those submissions were then checked against actual flight test data. For a few select data points, and they were not exact matches. Still, close gets the banana. However, the really hard stuff was not done - the YF-22 did not shoot off a missile in a M1.4 5g turn AFAIK.



So Dem/Val was about the company that had the more mature tools since It was recognized that the final submissions would be
different than the YF-22 and the YF-23. And in fact the final version for the F-23 was very different and much more F-22 like.

The claim that Dem/Val flight testing motivated changes in the full scale development contract reqs is not well supported since the
RFP for full scale developmentwas released while the YF-22 and YF-23 were still flying and the contractors
submitted their final FSD proposals before the jets were even cool. I believe I was trying to say the end of the Cold War etc. made the big changes to the program.


There were of course requirements refinements during Dem/Val but that almost all before flight testing e.g. STOL which
was dropped because F-15 STOL experiments demonstrated that the costs were prohibitive. Nothing competitive about that.


Claims about O&S breakdowns are not accurate; the F-16 for example is dominated by personnel costs not maintenance costs.

The F-35 is O&S breakdown:

  • 30% unit personnel
  • 33% maintenance
  • 14% operations
  • 14% sustaining support
  • 8% continuing system improvements.
  • 1% misc
Are these from the latest SAR? A 2018 Congressional Research Service reprt gives USAF F-35 costs as $260bn for procurement and $620bn for O&S, through life.

The claims that STEM graduates are fungible between development and maintenance is bizarre and unsupported. Did I say that? I recall saying that firing STEM graduates into design in their thousands will not necessarily result in improved design. I do think the money can be moved between those areas.

The claim that 70% of Life cycle costs are O&S was based old, flawed studies that used an amalgamation of
estimates of O&S and not actuals see:

“Investigation Into the Ratio of Operating and Support Costs to Life-Cycle Costs for DoD Weapon Systems” I got my numbers from a mix of a USAF SAB report from 2011 and the RAF reports from the 80s I also quoted. The SAB report states: "In general, 65-70% percent of the life-cycle cost of a military system is incurred during the sustainment phase. "

It’s more like 50:50 even for fighters
 

marauder2048

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Continued:

Quite why the Typhoon's supersonic weapons delivery + turning rate isn't useful for air to ground is...

The claim that weapons systems development in the Cold War was based on one-time nuclear war fighting use is wrong.
Certainly by the 70's, limited or prolonged nuclear warfare or mostly conventional warfare was en vogue. So these systems
would see prolonged use.

The claim that integrated avionics drives longer development cycles is maybe a half truth: the operating envelopes for
modern fighters are *much* larger than their predecessors. Unless you have huge test fleets, those envelopes still have
to be explored through flight test.

The improvements in sensors and weapons ranges (and threats) drive far more complex
integrated test environments and employment scenarios.

If you had more integrated test ranges and most test assets and the tasks were perfectly parallelizable then maybe you could make a dent.
But those are really expensive assets that the development program is typically forced to fund.
 
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marauder2048

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The F-4 as the winner of the century series is a hilariously bad mischaracterization of history; the Air Force
acceded to McNamara's imposition in exchange for F-X being funded. McNamara's analytical basis for
the imposition was subsequently shown to be flawed. The F-4 went through so many variations (at least 7 different wings)
to the point that the TISEO equipped slat-birds were practically different aircraft to the early models. This is my point. The F-4 was adaptable where the others were not. The politics were not good, sure, butt he outcome was better for the USAF than pressing on with the F-105 would have been.
The F-4's variations were almost all for air-to-air; the Air Force also bought the A-7 to do the A2G stuff. Again they did so in order to get the F-X
and A-X funded. And again it was all fiat and premised on the F-4's performance with extended range fuel tanks the the AF never bought.
The AF resisted because: the F-4 had no internal cannon and the F-105 did (most number of gun kills of any US fighter in Vietnam).
So the F-4 was comparatively short lived since the F-15 development was already underway. And the special purpose F-14 would quickly replace the F-4 in Navy usage.


Nobody knew how to build supersonic aircraft in the century-series time period. And of course, the Century Series
models were designed for very different, specific purposes mainly nuclear attack and nuclear defense. Exactly my point.
Quite how any of that is relevant to today is not explained. There is much talk of a 'Digital Century Series'. It may be misleading (and the digital part especially so)
Yes it's talk..which makes the long discursive approach in the presentation irrelevant and misleading. And of course the F-106 and F-104
flew for a very long time in part because the early model F-15s and F-16s couldn't match the F-106 in DACT.

The claim that CFD is not predictive of flight data in the supersonic maneuvering envelope is totally without evidence esp: It's why you need to go into a wind tunnel or flight test. Even an airliner in a turn is hard to predict precisely with CFD.
Very weasely: "predict precisely" when of course what you want is accuracy.

Both wind tunnels and CFD are modeling approaches. Both are really analytical since wind tunnel data is sampled
and reconstructed. All models are false; some are useful.

And the general claim about CFD is in fact backwards: McAir management dismissed early CFD predictions that
showed unsafe store separation on the Super Hornet because the models were allegedly not completed validated.

The very costly flight test discovery resulted in those horrible band-aid canted pylons. And only CFD was able to
to elucidate the underlying cause of Super Hornet wing drop and the mechanics underlying the "solution" which
was to ditch the vented LEX that were supposed to be Super Hornet's enabler at high AoA.



It was in fact based on sealed envelope predictions where CFD and wind tunnel test results were submitted ahead of time.
Those submissions were then checked against actual flight test data. For a few select data points, and they were not exact matches.
You've presented no evidence that exact matches are required; if the performance is bounded that's sufficient and very useful
in reducing or focusing actual flight test points.

And looking at the published predictions vs. flight data there were many exact matches.
Naturally, real data is noisy but pick whichever regressor you want: it's clear that the (Lockheed/Boeing/GD)
modeling approach had very strong predictive power.

Still, close gets the banana. However, the really hard stuff was not done - the YF-22 did not shoot off a missile in a M1.4 5g turn AFAIK.
Those weren't necessarily the risk elements that needed to be retired; hot gas ingestion tolerance of missile effluvia into large s-ducts was.
Are you going to suggest that that isn't really hard to do?

I believe I was trying to say the end of the Cold War etc. made the big changes to the program.
No $hit. But that wasn't what you said. You said the "fly off" (it wasn't) somehow informed the requirements (it didn't).

There's no possible way that the excerpt below could be construed as trying to say what you
now claim you were trying to say.


15:54 (auto transcript)

"but what was interesting was there was a variety of designs a variety of approaches
and the us air force was in the happy position where they could fly them try them and choose the one that they
thought would work um equally they could see that actually sometimes some of the requirements we've
laid down when we've actually got our hands on them or seen how hard it is to produce an air vehicle that meets those
requirements it's not so attractive and that idea of informing a requirement i think is an important one"

You then go on to contrast that purported advantage with the cost of Dem/Val.



The F-35 O&S breakdown:

  • 30% unit personnel
  • 33% maintenance
  • 14% operations
  • 14% sustaining support
  • 8% continuing system improvements.
  • 1% misc
Are these from the latest SAR? A 2018 Congressional Research Service reprt gives USAF F-35 costs as $260bn for procurement and $620bn for O&S, through life.
Yes. From the FY2021 SAR. The CRS report would be estimates right? Not actuals. And CRS is irrelevant since your claims were based on breakdown
of O&S costs. That's what I'm refuting. We won't be able to say anything about the split until the program is done since R&D on subsequent blocks
continues. That's not accounted for in O&S beyond the 8% retrofit/improvement amount. And newer blocks may be more expensive that pervious blocks.

The claims that STEM graduates are fungible between development and maintenance is bizarre and unsupported. Did I say that? I recall saying that firing STEM graduates into design in their thousands will not necessarily result in improved design. I do think the money can be moved between those areas.
Yes. You said that. The allocation of design vs. maintenance personnel.

18:42 (auto transcript)

think how the future workforce lies maintenance activities are perhaps not as attractive to stem graduates as
design and development activities you may find it's easier to recruit and certainly one of the big
changes in instruction in the uk industry was a recognition in the mid 80s actually demographics meant there'd be a
smaller pool of people to to get maintenance crews from

“Investigation Into the Ratio of Operating and Support Costs to Life-Cycle Costs for DoD Weapon Systems” I got my numbers from a mix of a USAF SAB report from 2011 and the RAF reports from the 80s I also quoted. The SAB report states: "In general, 65-70% percent of the life-cycle cost of a military system is incurred during the sustainment phase. "

It’s more like 50:50 even for fighters
The study I cited is more recent than what you cited. There was one bad study that used amalgamations of O&S estimates
that had (regrettably) a huge impact factor.
 
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overscan (PaulMM)

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View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L_e15_YDgU



I take issue with the tone of the posts by marauder2048. He is absolutely entitled to disagree with Mike’s arguments and conclusions, but there is no need to express these views in this combative and dismissive way. It’s not appropriate.

[edited - link was incorrect]
 
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Mike Pryce

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View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L_e15_YDgU



I take issue with the tone of the posts by marauder2048. He is absolutely entitled to disagree with Mike’s arguments and conclusions, but there is no need to express these views in this combative and dismissive way. It’s not appropriate.

[edited - link was incorrect]
I'm always happy to reply to people.who disagree etc. However, once the swearing starts, I stop.

I do need a haircut though!
 

red admiral

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One of the things in my mind has been the question of "what defines a successful programme?"

Usually this is viewed through the industry lens of numbers and money, but this doesn't really seem the right/only definition. Maybe we should have more weight on the operators views.
 

Mike Pryce

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One of the things in my mind has been the question of "what defines a successful programme?"

Usually this is viewed through the industry lens of numbers and money, but this doesn't really seem the right/only definition. Maybe we should have more weight on the operators views.
Absolutely. Decisions should be made by those with real skin in the game.

It's important thst they know what is possible and practical. They often know the limits and benefits of current kit, but how can they trust in future promises?

Show. Don't tell. Operators get that.
 

marauder2048

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View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L_e15_YDgU



I take issue with the tone of the posts by marauder2048. He is absolutely entitled to disagree with Mike’s arguments and conclusions, but there is no need to express these views in this combative and dismissive way. It’s not appropriate.


[edited - link was incorrect]
Surely whether I'm right or wrong in my criticisms is more important than my tone. We're all big boys here or so I thought.

I'm neither combative nor dismissive: I give timestamps, direct quotations, cite official figures, provide
analysis, give actual correct historical accounts and call into question claims made without evidence.

It's extraordinarily detailed feedback if a little sardonic.
Mike should be grateful someone was that engaged and attentive; the goal of peer review is to strengthen not wreck.
Mike was an academic; it's 10X worse in actual academic circles.


I'm always happy to reply to people.who disagree etc. However, once the swearing starts, I stop.
Your arguments, evidence and analysis were not holding up very well. You picked an awfully convenient time to disengage.

You might have a legitimate point or some useful insights but anyone with a good background on these topics
is going to be too annoyed by the fast-and-loose approach you have to hold out for those.
 
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overscan (PaulMM)

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Perhaps this is a cultural thing but it certainly started quite rudely.

I understood the point that of the F-4 analogy was the superiority of the general purpose F-4 design (started as an attack fighter) to the more specialised century fighters like F-105.

Certainly you can look to the export record and service lifespan of F-101,F-102,F-105,F-106 as evidence - though F-104 sold well enough worldwide.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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The specifics of the complexity of say weapons integration on Typhoon interest me. New digital interfaces And stores management systems were supposed to make it easier - on the MiG-23 you had to replace physical blocks of the WCS to support new missiles.
 

red admiral

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I understood the point that of the F-4 analogy was the superiority of the general purpose F-4 design (started as an attack fighter) to the more specialised century fighters like F-105.
That gets kinda to my point. F-4 is generally thought of as more successful than say F-106 due to numbers built and users. But for air defence of CONUS then F-106 is better, but not for much else. So the general point is trying to avoid over specialised designs if you can't afford multiple types.

F-4 being a few years later to benefit from improved avionics also helps a fair bit in the F-106 comparison.
 

Hood

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One of the things in my mind has been the question of "what defines a successful programme?"

Usually this is viewed through the industry lens of numbers and money, but this doesn't really seem the right/only definition. Maybe we should have more weight on the operators views.
I think its fair to say that no military aircraft programme has been fully matured in its capabilities straight out of the box, for example the F-86 slatted wing, F-4 as has been mentioned, even Typhoon is only getting into its stride and still has a bit more stretch before it fulfills its maximum peak capability nearly 2 decades after introduction. Even in piston-powered days the Mk.1 of any aircraft was never the best and was soon superseded. There is so much emphasis on getting perfection today from the start, but the reality is if you design a good enough airframe and a good enough integration of systems to allow future mods and upgrades then you are onto a winner.

It's hard to imagine the F-22, F-35 or any 5th/6th Gen ever going through the kinds of physical changes older generations did (either through choice or forced by aerodynamic shortcomings), even Typhoon and Rafale are essentially stock airframes since their introduction. Super Hornet and F-15EX are probably the last major airframe mods to improve performance and both of their basic airframes were sketched out nearly 50 years ago.
Super-refined CAD-drawn and virtually tested models mean the airframe is tightly tailored to avoid expensive production and R&D costs, its perfect for its designed role but if you wanted to change the aerodynamics then you need to start afresh with another multi-billion programme, so is it really saving any money?

Agreed you have to look past sales, Cold War politics and defence aid tends to skew production runs and operators. What matters is the customer who it was designed for.
 

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Perhaps you could argue the F-104 owes its success to these factors, but the F-16 is objectively a very successful design technically as well as financially.
 

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Perhaps you could argue the F-104 owes its success to these factors, but the F-16 is objectively a very successful design technically as well as financially.
You could argue the F-104 owes its success to lots of shady activities too!

The whole issue of being 'tightly bound' is the main thing. To design systems to work together at the outset, rather than bolting them on as you go, is a real problem. You may make them all equally obsolescent by time they enter service.

Typhoon is tightly bound to its FBW and unstable aerodynamics via the avionics architecture. Gripen separates the safety critical bits from the mission systems. Stealth means bolting anything on at all is a no no, so you have to rummage around inside.

The Phantom had its faults as any plane does, but it could be adapted. IIRC the original idea was to have interchangeable noses, so they thought about adaptation from the get go.
 

marauder2048

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I understood the point that of the F-4 analogy was the superiority of the general purpose F-4 design (started as an attack fighter) to the more specialised century fighters like F-105.
That gets kinda to my point. F-4 is generally thought of as more successful than say F-106 due to numbers built and users. But for air defence of CONUS then F-106 is better, but not for much else. So the general point is trying to avoid over specialised designs if you can't afford multiple types.

F-4 being a few years later to benefit from improved avionics also helps a fair bit in the F-106 comparison.
The F-4 and A-7 could land on a carrier where the none of the Century Series could; the Navy having opted out of the F-111B.

For the USAF, it was an interim air-superiority bird supplemented by an interim attack aircraft, the A-7.
So to replace two specific purpose aircraft, the USAF was directed to buy two specific purpose aircraft.

Of course, the F-111 (also conveniently overlooked) is another excellent counter-example; it outlasted the F-4 by
many years in USAF service and was arguably the most successful attack aircraft in the USAF inventory (see GW1).

It's loss is still felt. Nobody is missing the F-4.
 

marauder2048

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but the F-16 is objectively a very successful design technically as well as financially.
Designing a clear weather, day fighter when the Russians were building all-weather, night capable fighters
was lunacy. Thankfully, the LWF part of the F-16 got junked and what we have is a very different bird.

It also ran out of growth potential very quickly which is why you saw those radical redesigns in the 80's.
And to paraphrase Hillaker: once you start seeing things showing up above the wings the design is dead.

The whole issue of being 'tightly bound' is the main thing. To design systems to work together at the outset, rather than bolting them on as you go, is a real problem. You may make them all equally obsolescent by time they enter service.
Integration is practically then hardest part of any development process; it drives most of the errata. Not sure what that proves.
Relative to the pace of civilian technology development, all military aircraft, regardless of avionics architecture
are obsolescent at IOC.

Typhoon is tightly bound to its FBW and unstable aerodynamics via the avionics architecture. Gripen separates the safety critical bits from the mission systems.
The degree of coupling tends to be proportional to the performance requirements particularly in the Typhoon design
period when flight rated flight control computers weren't all that powerful.

The Gripen is hardly novel in separating vehicle management from mission systems.

Stealth means bolting anything on at all is a no no, so you have to rummage around inside.
https---api.thedrive.com-wp-content-uploads-2017-03-nncn12.jpg?quality=85.jpeg


There have been no major OML changes on the F-15 and the F-16; the Super Hornet was in effect a completely new design
so is the Gripen NG. The notion that you can readily externally reconfigure any aircraft designed
in the last 40 years is really not true.


The Phantom had its faults as any plane does, but it could be adapted. IIRC the original idea was to have interchangeable noses, so they thought about adaptation from the get go.
The F-4 was so easy to adapt they could never figure out how to fit an internal cannon despite many attempts.
In any event those hacks made it very hard to service which is why it was replaced so quickly. No thought was given to sustainment of those mods.
 

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At roughly the 30:00 mark of the video, Mike Pryce says the modular electronics on the F-22 became a maintenance problem because like the F-22 they were unique.
I just want to point out that those Standardized modules were to be used on a variety of planned platforms:
NATF, ATF, A-12, and I believed the RAH-66. The plan was to make the whole front line combat aircraft force to be 5th Gen. Obviously didn’t turn out that way but it wasn’t intentional to make a one plane only electronics system.
 

marauder2048

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At roughly the 30:00 mark of the video, Mike Pryce says the modular electronics on the F-22 became a maintenance problem because like the F-22 they were unique.
I just want to point out that those Standardized modules were to be used on a variety of planned platforms:
NATF, ATF, A-12, and I believed the RAH-66. The plan was to make the whole front line combat aircraft force to be 5th Gen. Obviously didn’t turn out that way but it wasn’t intentional to make a one plane only electronics system.
The presentation is breathtakingly conclusory in general.

Example: the claim that 70% of O&S is maintenance looks to be a complete invention.

auto-transcript 17:25:

60 70 80 percent of costs for an entire program are in support the support phase operations and support
and what you can see within the operations support phase is that if you
break down the costs around 70 percent of that 70 percent or
is itself maintenance activities it's spanner turning activities to keep the
aircraft flying
I can't find a single SAR with steady-state actuals (or even projections) or any O&S data
for any fighter aircraft with that breakdown.

So there's no way it can constitute a representative figure for any US fighter.

And that breakdown is not in any of the publicly accessible references he now gives.
So that leaves his claimed RAF data from the 80's which is of little value for any fighter designed and built in the last what 40 years?
 

Bruno Anthony

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So that leaves his claimed RAF data from the 80's which is of little value for any fighter designed and built in the last what 40 years?
Maybe he can link to his sources Sad to say there have been very few Western fighter designs tha have gone into production since the 80s.
 

marauder2048

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So that leaves his claimed RAF data from the 80's which is of little value for any fighter designed and built in the last what 40 years?
Maybe he can link to his sources Sad to say there have been very few Western fighter designs tha have gone into production since the 80s.
We have all of the teen-series data*; nothing that I can find suggests that maintenance is 70% of O&S for those fighters either.
RAF data would have Tornado, Harrier and some estimates for Typhoon. The US has mature Harrier data. Doesn't come close to 70% for maintenance either.

And I don't think anyone can credibility suggest that Tornado or earlier aircraft would be a good models for estimating future
fighter O&S breakdowns.

* Block 60 and F-15SA data would be interesting but I can't find anything; the latter won't be steady state
 

aim9xray

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The F-4 was so easy to adapt they could never figure out how to fit an internal cannon despite many attempts.
Is that true?
The successful addition of the internal M-61 Gatling resulted in over 1,700 production aircraft (F-4E, F-4EJ, F-4F).
 

aim9xray

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Of course, the F-111 (also conveniently overlooked) is another excellent counter-example; it outlasted the F-4 by many years in USAF service...
Is that true?
In reality, the F-4E led the F-111D/E/F in service introduction by five years and preceded the F-111s in final retirement by about the same. F-4E retirement from active USAF use was enabled by continued replacement by the F-15C/D; F-111 retirement was due more to the post cold war drawdown (high level political decisions during the Clinton years) even as upgrade programs were in place. ANG/AFRES use of the F-4E was curtailed by the infusion of Block 1/5/10 F-16A/B aircraft hat were displaced by the newer F-16C/D in the active duty fleet.

Curiously, airframe life on the surviving examples of F-4/F-111 both appear to have maxed out at about 6,200 actual flight hours - likely indicating a point where it was thought to be uneconomical to perform a structural service life extension; particularly with the performance and avionics improvements inherent in the newer F-15C/D fighters and the F-15E "dual role fighter". Don't forget that the F-15E was seen in the early 1990s as a bridge to the LO ATA/A-12 following F-111 replacement.

...and was arguably the most successful attack aircraft in the USAF inventory (see GW1).
And if by "most successful attack aircraft", you would mean to say "long range interdiction aircraft", I might agree. (A-6E fans might diagree and so might the F-117 supporters.) On the other hand, the number of F-111s that attacked the Iraqi tank columns on the "Highway of Death" is zero (from memory - YMMV). A-10s did the "attacking" there.
 

marauder2048

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The F-4 was so easy to adapt they could never figure out how to fit an internal cannon despite many attempts.
Is that true?
The successful addition of the internal M-61 Gatling resulted in over 1,700 production aircraft (F-4E, F-4EJ, F-4F).
A graft on-pod under the nose? That doesn't really meet the definition of internal cannon.
And it was not a satisfactory arrangement until the Block 48s and that was all at the cost of a reduced aperture radar.

Of course, the F-111 (also conveniently overlooked) is another excellent counter-example; it outlasted the F-4 by many years in USAF service...
Is that true?
1963 (F-4C) vs. 1967 (F-111). In 1995, the F-111 was still serving in its original attack role when they began to retire it.
The F-4 had long since become Wild Weasel only by the time of its retirement.

F-111 retirement was due more to the post cold war drawdown (high level political decisions during the Clinton years) even as upgrade programs were in place.
Does that not make my point? The "interim" F-15E still doesn't match the F-111 in terms of payload @ range.
It's been a gaping hole in Air Force capabilities that A-12, F/B-22, F-22E and many other proposals have failed to fill
including the conventional B-1B.

The irony of this conversation being that the F-111's retirement was justified on the basis of some very questionable
O&S costs

.
And if by "most successful attack aircraft", you would mean to say "long range interdiction aircraft", I might agree. (A-6E fans might diagree and so might the F-117 supporters.)
The A-6 was a complete flop from Lebanon through GW1 (loss/damage rates per sortie flown). Extraordinarily limited PGM capability and
it was never even sent against the high threat laydown the F-111 was. Simple payload @ range figures and sorties completed do not favor the A-6 in GW1.

And I don't think that it's controversial to state that the F-111/EF-111 tandem was superior in every respect to the A-6/EA-6 tandem.

The F-117 is a different discussion since TFX dates from 1959.

.
On the other hand, the number of F-111s that attacked the Iraqi tank columns on the "Highway of Death" is zero (from memory - YMMV). A-10s did the "attacking" there.
And F/A-18s and A-6s and probably other aircraft...

where they managed to destroy all of 30 armored vehicles of all types over a 10 hour period. Quite what that proves is unclear.
 
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Arjen

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If you concentrate on service with forces other than US forces, the F-4 has shown/is showing remarkable longevity. South Korea, Germany, Japan, Israel, Turkey.

Internal guns - it depends on your definition. In my view, the permanent installation in the E/F models qualifies. How many other examples are there of all-missile fighters that had a fixed gun added on later variants?
 

red admiral

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We have all of the teen-series data*; nothing that I can find suggests that maintenance is 70% of O&S for those fighters either.
RAF data would have Tornado, Harrier and some estimates for Typhoon. The US has mature Harrier data. Doesn't come close to 70% for maintenance either.

And I don't think anyone can credibility suggest that Tornado or earlier aircraft would be a good models for estimating future
fighter O&S breakdowns.
Costs are always difficult to compare; its what you're including/excluding and then inflation effects over time. If you compare in terms of NPV rather than Outturn then O&S portion massively decreases; over the life of a typical programme then potentially around 50% variation from that alone.

For fighters, then 60-80% of life cycle costs spent on O&S is pretty normal from everything I've seen; rule of thumb was 75%. e.g. Figure 2 and 4 from the below draw upon multiple projects. https://www.nao.org.uk/pubsarchive/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2018/11/Ministry-of-Defence-Planning-for-Lifecycle-Costs.pdf

What can be drawn for future projects? it depends; in general aircraft are getting more costly to develop (RDT&E up), fewer produced (Production, AGE&IP down), reduced live flying (O&S down) but longer term programmes/increased total flight hours (O&S up). Hence the relative proportions are going to be significantly different to previous aircraft programmes. Fundamental point is that lots of money still gets spent on O&S - the main tool for reducing that is reducing live flying / greater synthetics which is definitely the way things are going e.g. Typhoon pushing for 50:50; is lower possible?





Why was F-111 a "good" design? Your points regarding that are more around the requirements/characteristics i.e. big aeroplane has larger payload-range than smaller aeroplanes. That says nothing to the design itself.
 

marauder2048

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We have all of the teen-series data*; nothing that I can find suggests that maintenance is 70% of O&S for those fighters either.
RAF data would have Tornado, Harrier and some estimates for Typhoon. The US has mature Harrier data. Doesn't come close to 70% for maintenance either.

And I don't think anyone can credibility suggest that Tornado or earlier aircraft would be a good models for estimating future
fighter O&S breakdowns.
Costs are always difficult to compare;
They were deliberately designed via CAPE and the SAR and the joint Air Force/Navy VAMOSC system
to be comparable. That's why those costs have been the basis for all the comprehensive studies that rely on actuals.


For fighters, then 60-80% of life cycle costs spent on O&S is pretty normal from everything I've seen; rule of thumb was 75%. e.g. Figure 2 and 4 from the below draw upon multiple projects. https://www.nao.org.uk/pubsarchive/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2018/11/Ministry-of-Defence-Planning-for-Lifecycle-Costs.pdf
A 1992 paper? Which is devoid of individual program breakdowns with actuals and includes things like estimates from Janes.

But Figure 4 has 50% in-serivce costs for fighters ("the high performance aircraft some 50 per cent") which completely contradicts your claim.

But it's remarkably prescient given that the 2014 paper found pretty much the same breakdown for fighters: 50:50.

So thanks for helping me make my point!

And nowhere is there evidence that maintenance is 70% of O&S.


What can be drawn for future projects? it depends; in general aircraft are getting more costly to develop (RDT&E up), fewer produced (Production, AGE&IP down), reduced live flying (O&S down) but longer term programmes/increased total flight hours (O&S up). Hence the relative proportions are going to be significantly different to previous aircraft programmes. Fundamental point is that lots of money still gets spent on O&S - the main tool for reducing that is reducing live flying / greater synthetics which is definitely the way things are going e.g. Typhoon pushing for 50:50; is lower possible?
You are seeing pretty much continuous development on modern fighters so much greater sums are bing spent on post-IOC RDT&E, procurement and upgrades
consuming an ever larger portion of the O&S budget.

And of course, all volunteer forces are expensive; it's very difficult to retard the growth in personnel costs and labor in general.
And given the nature of modern combat aircraft, you are recruiting skilled technicians than are at the far right end of the distribution and
in high-demand in the civilian sphere so retraining those people is costly.



Why was F-111 a "good" design? Your points regarding that are more around the requirements/characteristics i.e. big aeroplane has larger payload-range than smaller aeroplanes. That says nothing to the design itself.
It translates directly to higher sustained op-tempo because you are able to operate from bases that are inherently better supplied
than forward bases. And heavier aircraft hold up better, physically, under combat wear-and-tear than lighter aircraft.

In GW1, the F-16s were beginning to fall off a cliff.
 
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marauder2048

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How many other examples are there of all-missile fighters that had a fixed gun added on later variants?
The F-106 and topically the F-111. Thanks for playing.

AFAIK, of the US century series, only the F-102 failed to get a gun.

Of course, the original claim was that the F-4 was "more flexible" which really isn't true.
They just pounded on it until the F-14 and F-15 showed up. Then it was dumped.

Trading radar aperture for a cannon that was no more effective than the podded arrangements on the F-4C and F-4D
(going by the number of A2A kills before and after) when the AIM-7 was half of all A2A kills is not evidence
of flexibility.
 
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Arjen

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So three in all, with most of the century series having the gun designed in from the start. You are fixating on the F-4's US service record, but look at the German and Japanese aircraft - thoroughly modified, much longer service. Both countries choosing the Vulcan-carrying models as a starting point, so McD must have done something right.
 
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