Sacrifice…the USAF way

Stolen from John at OpFor:



  1. The old Buff is too long in the tooth to continue. What really gets me is the fortune we will be forced to shell out to replace it.

  2. I am sure if that the Air Force gets its way, their new bomber will be a vertical takeoff, super stealthy, hyper-sonic, spaceplane that will deploy and control its own fleet of UAV’s and destroy its targets with a solid state laser weapon. Thats just so cool, How can we afford *NOT* to buy it.

  3. I hope they do a better job with the selection of the bomber than they did with the F-22. They picked the worst of the two options between the YF-22 and YF-23. They eliminated Grumman’s entry from consideration due to the arbitrary decision of one General who said he would not have an airplane with a canard in his Air Force. I guess all the success they had with the X-29 meant nothing to that bone head. I remember my hellish nightmare working on the F-22. I was placed on the program to help them release drawings 3 months before the critical design review. That’s the point at which 90% of the design is supposed to be done. In that year I was only able to design a dozen parts. Most of them I redesigned 3 times before I left, and of those all but one of those were redesigned after I left. It was not just me, they did that with every part on the airplane. Even though we were revising drawings time after time, the USAF would not allow us to put revision letters on those drawings. They figured out that if we did, all the drawings for the airplane would be on revision ZZ before before it ever got off the ground. We wouldn’t want the US taxpayer to know where all their development money went, now would we? Every part I designed was fantastically expensive, even by aerospace standards. It was made quite clear that cost was no object. Our only design criteria was weight. Hmm, I wonder why the airplane is so fantastically expensive? It’s good that you stupid taxpayers are so willing to pay whatever it costs. The fact of the matter is, though, Skrip is right. We do need the F-22. 30 years is long enough to rest on our laurels, and it’s been over 40 we’ve been doing that with our bomber fleet. If we can’t do better today, we don’t deserve to be free.

  4. I figured… Even if we upgrade our F-15Cs, theyre still 4th gen aircraft, and our adversaries will catch up in not time. At least the advantages inherent in the F-22A will give it a longer useful service life before the playing field starts becoming more level.

  5. As much as the F-22 is a great plane, its not worth a B-52. We can live a whole lot bettwer with the loss of 2 F-22’s then the loss of the 1/2 the B-52 fleet.

  6. Let’s not fight the last war shall we? The USAF may have it easy at the moment, but it shouldnt be an excuse to sit back, relax, and use vinatage equipment. B-52s are important. But then again, we have so many. Then we also have B-1s and B-2s. B-1s should hold us over for a while… and they haul way more than a BUFF anyway.

  7. Again I agree, and I’d like to add that the amazing thing is how these liberals pretend like they’re really sticking it to the defense industry by cancelling these programs once they go into production. You’re not sticking it to anyone but the US taxpayer (as usual). The defense companies don’t want to build things. What they want to do is develop them. There’s more profit in development than in production. Well, there is now since the idiot Democrats started allowing contracts that pay profit on development. It has been the most subtile and effective ploy to destroy our defense capability of all time. Notice how they’re always ready to drop the hammer on a program in the production phase, but never say anything about one in development? They set up the socialist system of procurement we have today. You don’t think they know how to work it? Of course, I’ve got to admit, the Republicans went right along with them, and they’ve been in charge lately, and have you heard even one say we should fix this system? I haven’t.

  8. Dfens, I have noticed that US does not use canard on its airplanes, and now you said that General was clearly against it. Why is that? Is the canard so bad?

  9. The B-1 & B-52 in tactical operations are basically in high threat areas stand off weapon platforms. Only the B-2 can penitrate defenses. That said, the B-52 is cheaper to fly then the B-1, can carry more types of weapons and due to the Buff’s over engineering, a B-52 will last longer then the B-1 or the B-2. At current rates of usage, the B-1 & B-2 fleets will will have to be retired around 2018. Where as the B-52’s can go on till 2050 or so. Just because a plane is old does not mean it can’t do its job as well as anything ‘new’ can. Don’t let your advertising prejudice blind you to the fact that its the mission that drives the delivery system not its press releases. A B-52 can do its mission as well and in many ways better then any other bomber in fleet.

  10. The General, I cannot remember his name, he was in charge of the ATF competition back in the mid-80s, said in the article I read that the canard was a European fashion that had no place on US fighters. It was something to that effect. It was not a statment of substance. Technically speaking, the canard does expose more edges to a front radar view. That’s the view they mainly worry about in a penetration mission. The wing partially hides the edges of a conventional horizontal. There are some other issues a canard can have depending on how it is integrated with the wing, but these can be worked around. The canard has a lot of advantages in terms of take off distance and maneuverability. To me the bottom line is, let the contractor build the airplane and let the USAF test it. If the stealth isn’t as good then it should hurt the ratings in the competition. To eliminate one alternative before it ever gets a chance, though, that’s just stupid. Of course, in those days it didn’t seem as bad as it does now, because we never even remotely thought the F-22 would drag on for so damn long in development. That’s what’s really insane.

  11. It’s more complicated than that now. It’s become a game of liar’s poker. Your proposal isn’t your best idea any more. It’s the idea you can best sell to the customer. It is basically telling the customer what they want to hear. You lie about the performance. You lie about the cost. Not too much, but as much as you can get away with, and as much as your competition is lying. That’s how you end up with situations like that ACS program had for the Army where the airplane was at best half big enough. The half big enough airplane was less of a lie than the quarter big enough airplane the competitor proposed. We have a system that not only does not reward honesty, it openly encourages lying. Then we wonder why we have problems with corruption at the top levels of both the corporations and government. If they got there by lying… I mean, there’s no sense waiting for those leopards to change their spots, right? In the old days, there was not much room for lying. You built your prototype on your nickle and naturally tried to highlight it’s best qualities, much like selling a used car, but still the thing had to bascially do the function. There was no sugar coating it if it was supposed to go vertical and couldn’t like Boeing’s JSF candidate. Anyone who knows about that stuff could look at their design and tell you it wouldn’t do VTOL. Boeing themselves knew it. That’s why they tried to dump those requiremnets. Fortunately the Marines had too much clout and that ugly dog of an airplane lost, but it didn’t lose until you and I as taxpayers spent a fortune on their prototypes. Maybe going back to the way we did things years ago isn’t the right answer for today, but what we’ve got sure as heck isn’t working.

  12. So, can’t we run things like the JSF program? Where two competitors are given a limited budget with which to develop an aircraft, and the best idea wins out? Albeit, in the JSF program, the winner won more development funds, but so far, it hasnt gone to extremes. Maybe the Defense industry is becoming monopolized? Seems like fewer and fewer companies are building technology needed for our military. Back in the 50s you had what? 5 or so companies building aircraft? Sigh… but me thinks that may be a wrong step to go. But if Boeing ever absorbs LockMart, I will be worried.

  13. Dfens – Quick question – what canard are you talking about on the YF-23? None of the pictures I was able to find from looking online at Wikipedia, FAS (, or Jane’s Online (behind the subscription service) had anything remotely resembling a canard up front. Skrip – Anymore, the difficulties are less in the hardware side of designing an aircraft than they are in the software and integration sides. Getting software right the first time is hard enough in the commercial world, but getting it right in defense has even more hurdles. I’m not sure most people quite understand just how many wildly different functions the software in a modern aircraft encompasses. For what it’s worth, I say this after 3.5 yrs as a System Safety engineer on the V-22 (some time on Comanche too), and about a year on the commercial side of things as a Requirements engineer and now as a Flight Test engineer.

  14. There never was a canard version of the YF-23. Speculation is that Grumman was proposing a forward swept wing design for their ATF candidate, which is why it wouldn’t work without the canard. They hung in for a few months after the edict, then folded up the tent. As far as I know, their design is still classified. Oh, and Skrip, the last I heard the F-35 has a $300B price tag. On the up side, it isn’t dragging out as long as F-22 did, and the best plane did win. I wouldn’t classify either as spectacular, but the lift fan was a good idea, and it made all the difference in the end.

  15. One thing Congress could do is stop allowing contractors to put a funding profile in their multi-year contracts. After all, why is the Executive branch signing for the Legislative branch in those contracts? They cannot commit Congress to anything, so why are they signing a contract that does this very thing? That’s the way these contracts get their huge increases in cost. Congress doesn’t meet the funding profile because of poor contractor performance, well, that means a contract change. This is the foot in the door they need to drive the cost up and the performance specifications down.

  16. There is more then enough blame to go around on the debacle that this call procurement. In the defense of the contractors, its hard to run a buisness where your prime customer has an aversion to making decisions while being blessed with a multitude of program requirements that change constantly without reguard to capabilities or actual need. Take XM-8 program which originated from the XM29 program which derived from the OICW program which started in 1986. Its now 2006 (20 years later) and we still do not have new rifle. Now some might call me cranky, but hell is making a rifle a 20+ year project? If I was a rifle maker, how much hope would I have of gaining a contract? None…So I would try to make a buck anyway I could. If my customer is willing to pay me year after year not to build a rifle, but instead build power point presentations and studies on how a rifle should work, don’t blame me if at the end of 20 years you don’t have rifle.

  17. Yes, but if they selected a rifle, then everyone on the government and contractor side would be out of a job. This way they’ve kept the gravy train rolling for 20 years. What the taxpayer sees as failure, the contractor and DoD worker sees as success. Obviously the opinion of those taxpaying suckers doesn’t count for much.

  18. Dfens wrote: ‘What the taxpayer sees as failure, the contractor and DoD worker sees as success. Obviously the opinion of those taxpaying suckers doesn’t count for much.’ Right, and the soldiers will show a PowerPoint presentation to the enemy. That will scare them to death, or will determine a mass surrender. Anyhow, it is clear that if US would have been decided to produce the best rifle ever, this could have been done in six months. Still, after 20 year, you have the M4/M16, which is are ‘decent’ carbine/rifle, but are not ‘the best’. Same thing with the airplanes, bombers, etc.