Is the US Air Force "Broken?"

AWP

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Is the AF bring properly managed or does it have the proper oversight?

Attack: The F-22 was bought in fewer numbers than planned, the F-35 program is in trouble, A-10C's will extend out to 2020 and many of the F-16's and F-15's are planned to be gone by then, so what will the AF do for an actual air force?

Cargo: The -130J is slowly making its way onto the scene, but the C-17 program will have issues in 15-20 years as the GWOT takes a full decade or more off of the planned life cycle of the air frames. The C-5M program has quietly wallowed around in "testing" for at least a decade now at a point in airlift is highly sought after. AFSOC is hurting so badly they went out and purchased civilian Pilatus PC-12's for resupply missions in Afghanistan, several squadron's worth.

Tanker: The Tanker-X or KC-X program is another one in serious trouble and poor management.

CSAR: The AF has a history of shitting on CSAR and now the CSAR-X debacle?

ISR: UAVs are the "in" thing, but even when those arent' enough the AF managed to push through the MC-12 aircraft. While not revolutionary, they still managed to field squadrons of them in just a few years using mostly COTS equipment.

Given all of the above, is AF leadership doing a good job to prepare us for a larger conflict or even a small war like Afghanistan and Iraq (And Somalia x 2 and Panama and Grenada.....)?

FWIW, I had a long, detailed post thought out, but I wanted to start the discussion and can expand my argument later if anyone reads this thread.
 

manas

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No, I don't think they are doing a good job to prepare for larger conflicts. They are too caught up in this war to realize they may need to focus on technologies that can counter larger conflicts against developed nations. UAVs and MC-12 would get shot down in handfuls with ease in other conflicts. ISR needs huge updates against nations with counter-air capabilities. Tanker program needs a kick in the butt and we need to start rethinking our bomber capability. Then again, money makes the world spin.
 

DA SWO

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The AF isn't broken, DoD's acquisitions process is broken (thanks to Congress).
AF (Fighter Mafia) screwed the pooch with the F-22; realistic numbers were proposed, but it was too late-SecDef had to kill the program to show whose boss. FWIW-SecDef showed a lack of integrity when stating why he was cancelling the program, one reason I am not a fan of Gates.
F-35 is having problems, that isn't unexpected, with software. Problem is SecDef put all our eggs in the F-35 basket, and will be gone when the program fails or succeeds.
C-5M is operational, just in small numbers. Again-software delayed/raised costs.
I disagree with your assertion that the PC-12 was bought as a 130 replacement. AFSOC has very quietly purchased many "low end" airframes to support the GWOT. Why use MC-130's to move 12 people? We concentrated on the high end, silver bullet capability, and let SF support wither, the U-28 (PC-12) and other airframes now give us a better ODA support capability.
I personaly blame Sen McCain for the KC-X fiasco. McCain has a hard-on for Boeing (don't know why), and I think the AF steered the program towards Airbus figuring that McCain wouldn't insist on an anal prob of the contract. We may see another successful appeal if Boeing loses round two.
CSAR-X was an AFSOC fuck up, and many believe the reason CSAR got shoved back into ACC.

sadly, the Army is just as fucked up. Stryker was an interim system, does it still look interim?
UH-72 was the last successful aviation acquisition by the Army. They went with an old school approach; simple requirements, and fix the problems after the bird was on the ramp. Look at the Cheyenne, Comanche, ARL Replacement; all failures. FCS isn't doing well either.

Navy has had their issues too, LCS went from a winner take all to a two class ship program, F/A18 came close to extermination, twice. A-12 anyone? P-8 is the next big program (after the F-35), nothing has been said, so I assume all is reasonabley well..

Marine F-35 will probably die a bloody death, hope the Corps enjoys the Navy version.

Most of these systems are software delinquent, and that drives costs up, and kills a delivery schedule.

CSAF recently chastised industry for not delivering, overdue. The Software engineers need to be honest when looking at requirements. The standard answer from the Software Engineers is "No problem", without really looking at the requirements. We need to make the software folks honor their commitments.
 

Robal2pl

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Just two questions :

1) If F-22 or F-35 programs were/are in trouble, would be good way to upgrade the fleet by purchasing new versions of F-16's or F-15's? Like those sold to allies wich are said to be better (newer) variants that those in USAF service? F-16C-52+ sold to Poland have very good reputation, Boeing has upgraded F-15E to "Silent Eagle" and also seems to offer it to other countries.

2) Is MW-12 better system than UAV? Or just this program is better managed (maybe Freefalling meant something different)?

Robal2pl
 

DA SWO

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Just two questions :

1) If F-22 or F-35 programs were/are in trouble, would be good way to upgrade the fleet by purchasing new versions of F-16's or F-15's? Like those sold to allies wich are said to be better (newer) variants that those in USAF service? F-16C-52+ sold to Poland have very good reputation, Boeing has upgraded F-15E to "Silent Eagle" and also seems to offer it to other countries.

2) Is MW-12 better system than UAV? Or just this program is better managed (maybe Freefalling meant something different)?

Robal2pl

1- I think so, I don't understand why we need F-22's in the Air Defense Role; I think upgraded F-15's and F-16's would do well. I think the AF's reluctence to do so stems from the Navy's experience. They upgraded their F/A-18's and then watched as congress gutted their programs (you don't need stealth, you have new airplanes). That said, I think Air Defense F-16's could be justified based on a reduced F-22 buy.

2-Administration has gone out of it's way to limit the Silent Eagle program; Saudi Arabia is the only approved buyer.

3-I assume you meant MC-12. My understanding is the MC-12 was envisioned as a manned RPV. The companies making the RPV's couldn't get the systems out fast enough; so an alternate method was found. I could be wrong, an intel weenie could probably address this program better then I.
 

Robal2pl

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1) Maybe they want to save F-35 and other programs - but there's another point. The newest F-16's and Silent Eagles + AWACS and other systems still would be a combinaton years away any other country capabilities.


3)Yes, I meant MC-12. I was always wonder why this aircraft was put into service - not another UAV.
 

AWP

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The AF isn't broken, DoD's acquisitions process is broken (thanks to Congress).
AF (Fighter Mafia) screwed the pooch with the F-22; realistic numbers were proposed, but it was too late-SecDef had to kill the program to show whose boss. FWIW-SecDef showed a lack of integrity when stating why he was cancelling the program, one reason I am not a fan of Gates.
F-35 is having problems, that isn't unexpected, with software. Problem is SecDef put all our eggs in the F-35 basket, and will be gone when the program fails or succeeds.
C-5M is operational, just in small numbers. Again-software delayed/raised costs.
I disagree with your assertion that the PC-12 was bought as a 130 replacement. AFSOC has very quietly purchased many "low end" airframes to support the GWOT. Why use MC-130's to move 12 people? We concentrated on the high end, silver bullet capability, and let SF support wither, the U-28 (PC-12) and other airframes now give us a better ODA support capability.
I personaly blame Sen McCain for the KC-X fiasco. McCain has a hard-on for Boeing (don't know why), and I think the AF steered the program towards Airbus figuring that McCain wouldn't insist on an anal prob of the contract. We may see another successful appeal if Boeing loses round two.
CSAR-X was an AFSOC fuck up, and many believe the reason CSAR got shoved back into ACC.

CSAF recently chastised industry for not delivering, overdue. The Software engineers need to be honest when looking at requirements. The standard answer from the Software Engineers is "No problem", without really looking at the requirements. We need to make the software folks honor their commitments.

I didn't go into the other services for a reason. I'll come around to them eventually.

That's a valid argument about the DoD's process and the SECDEF's role, hence my comment about oversight. Has "the system" placed our AF in a poor position to respond to threats 10-15 years from now?

I didn't mean to imply that the PC-12 is a -130 replacement, I was trying to show how the smallest airlift airframe was a -130 and how no one thought to use anything smaller. Over the last 20-30 years no one thought to pursue a smaller lift capability or did they and the program was killed? Again, we go back to management, not necessarily the AF.

And that's my point: Did the AF place itself in this position or were there outside influences? Given the state of the AF today, where does this place the AF in 10, 15, 20 years? How can it push something like the MC-12 and nothing on the CAS side to take the strain off of the -15E's and -16's? Those airframes are burning through hours and are they needed in an Iraq/ Afghanistan role? I'm not being argumentative, I'm just asking the question.
 

Nasty

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The AF isn't broken, DoD's acquisitions process is broken (thanks to Congress).
AF (Fighter Mafia) screwed the pooch with the F-22; realistic numbers were proposed, but it was too late-SecDef had to kill the program to show whose boss. FWIW-SecDef showed a lack of integrity when stating why he was cancelling the program, one reason I am not a fan of Gates.
F-35 is having problems, that isn't unexpected, with software. Problem is SecDef put all our eggs in the F-35 basket, and will be gone when the program fails or succeeds.
C-5M is operational, just in small numbers. Again-software delayed/raised costs.
I disagree with your assertion that the PC-12 was bought as a 130 replacement. AFSOC has very quietly purchased many "low end" airframes to support the GWOT. Why use MC-130's to move 12 people? We concentrated on the high end, silver bullet capability, and let SF support wither, the U-28 (PC-12) and other airframes now give us a better ODA support capability.
I personaly blame Sen McCain for the KC-X fiasco. McCain has a hard-on for Boeing (don't know why), and I think the AF steered the program towards Airbus figuring that McCain wouldn't insist on an anal prob of the contract. We may see another successful appeal if Boeing loses round two.
CSAR-X was an AFSOC fuck up, and many believe the reason CSAR got shoved back into ACC.

sadly, the Army is just as fucked up. Stryker was an interim system, does it still look interim?
UH-72 was the last successful aviation acquisition by the Army. They went with an old school approach; simple requirements, and fix the problems after the bird was on the ramp. Look at the Cheyenne, Comanche, ARL Replacement; all failures. FCS isn't doing well either.

Navy has had their issues too, LCS went from a winner take all to a two class ship program, F/A18 came close to extermination, twice. A-12 anyone? P-8 is the next big program (after the F-35), nothing has been said, so I assume all is reasonabley well..

Marine F-35 will probably die a bloody death, hope the Corps enjoys the Navy version.

Most of these systems are software delinquent, and that drives costs up, and kills a delivery schedule.

CSAF recently chastised industry for not delivering, overdue. The Software engineers need to be honest when looking at requirements. The standard answer from the Software Engineers is "No problem", without really looking at the requirements. We need to make the software folks honor their commitments.[/quot

Dead on.
 

lodmstr

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If its not going to far off, I would like to comment on the cargo side.
For smaller airlift capabilities, I believe that the air guard is receiving C-27's.
C-5m is operational now, just few of them and very selective at which units are receiving them, and it sounds like they are having an impressive reliability rate as well. Small talk is that when the M's get more in numbers that they may start to use them on more missions that the 17 would originally do.
Off of the C-5m, I do feel that resources are a little scarce on the side of the A models, and older B models. The capability they have is horribly down played by their abysmal reliability rate.

I'm still kinda new to how stuff works, but thats what I've been told. So don't know if this is a budget issue or just being slow and unproductive about getting stuff done.
 

Vat_69

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Is the AF bring properly managed or does it have the proper oversight?
Attack: The F-22 was bought in fewer numbers than planned, the F-35 program is in trouble, A-10C's will extend out to 2020 and many of the F-16's and F-15's are planned to be gone by then, so what will the AF do for an actual air force?
Cargo: The -130J is slowly making its way onto the scene, but the C-17 program will have issues in 15-20 years as the GWOT takes a full decade or more off of the planned life cycle of the air frames. The C-5M program has quietly wallowed around in "testing" for at least a decade now at a point in airlift is highly sought after. AFSOC is hurting so badly they went out and purchased civilian Pilatus PC-12's for resupply missions in Afghanistan, several squadron's worth.
Tanker: The Tanker-X or KC-X program is another one in serious trouble and poor management.
CSAR: The AF has a history of shitting on CSAR and now the CSAR-X debacle?
ISR: UAVs are the "in" thing, but even when those arent' enough the AF managed to push through the MC-12 aircraft. While not revolutionary, they still managed to field squadrons of them in just a few years using mostly COTS equipment.
Given all of the above, is AF leadership doing a good job to prepare us for a larger conflict or even a small war like Afghanistan and Iraq (And Somalia x 2 and Panama and Grenada.....)?
FWIW, I had a long, detailed post thought out, but I wanted to start the discussion and can expand my argument later if anyone reads this thread.

Were not the A-1, OV-10, AC-47, AC-119, AC-130, and Bird Dog Cessnas born out of Vietnam necesscity? While I agree with your acqusition criticism, I'd say this is status quo for Big Blue AF.

As for the MC-12, it was much needed battlefield Situational Awareness in the ISR realm. More so than a shortage of UAVs.
 

DA SWO

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Were not the A-1, OV-10, AC-47, AC-119, AC-130, and Bird Dog Cessnas born out of Vietnam necesscity? While I agree with your acqusition criticism, I'd say this is status quo for Big Blue AF.

As for the MC-12, it was much needed battlefield Situational Awareness in the ISR realm. More so than a shortage of UAVs.

No, A-1 was a Navy bird originally used in Korea. AF had to beg for them.
OV-10 was actually designed for VN service, one of the few successful Tri-Service programs. OV-10 finally phased out after Desert Storm.
AC-47 was actually a test bed, that evolved. Requirement was id'd, and we had two groups pitted against each other. Pro Gunship folks got a C-47 to use as a proof of concept aircraft. They proved the viability, and we still fly gunships. AC-119 and AC-130 came in as the requirements increased (more ammo/bigger guns)
Bird Dog started as a Korean war acft, The AF eliminated FACs when Korea ended, and had to rebuild the ability when VN went big-time. FWIW- We kept FACs after VN, though we no longer have a "FAC" acft, but use fighters or attack acft in the AC role.
MC-12 started as a RPV substitute, but I'd guess they stay in because (IMHO) they have more flexibility.
 

Vat_69

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No, A-1 was a Navy bird originally used in Korea. AF had to beg for them.
OV-10 was actually designed for VN service, one of the few successful Tri-Service programs. OV-10 finally phased out after Desert Storm.
AC-47 was actually a test bed, that evolved. Requirement was id'd, and we had two groups pitted against each other. Pro Gunship folks got a C-47 to use as a proof of concept aircraft. They proved the viability, and we still fly gunships. AC-119 and AC-130 came in as the requirements increased (more ammo/bigger guns)
Bird Dog started as a Korean war acft, The AF eliminated FACs when Korea ended, and had to rebuild the ability when VN went big-time. FWIW- We kept FACs after VN, though we no longer have a "FAC" acft, but use fighters or attack acft in the AC role.
MC-12 started as a RPV substitute, but I'd guess they stay in because (IMHO) they have more flexibility.

Quite right, my point was a broad one, those airframes gained new life and thrived because of their niche role in Vietnam regardless of their existence prior to Vietnam. The King Air, Pilatus and many others have been around prior to GWOT too but have gained a new lease on life (in the military).
 

Robal2pl

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Not to mention to off-topic (or violate OPSEC ) - but is MC-12W armed?
Some media reports (form 2009 Paris Air Show) claim ISR variant of Beech 350 can be armed (AGM-114's).
 

DA SWO

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Gates is going to trim 102 GO's from the mix; 22 AF GO's are going away. Navy and Army are losing 11 each, so I wonder what service is losing the rest (probably Joint Slots).
Glad to see the fighter club getting smaller, as an aside: supposedly the AF only protested 4 of the eliminations (3 JAG jobs and I forgot the other).
 

AWP

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Manolito

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Free that was a great link if you get any more please pass them on. I never thought the SES corps would take a hit like that.
They are eliminating GS13 positions that is way down the food chain at Gates level. I am amazed they haven't started yelling about another BRAC.
Bill
 
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