Aviation Week & Space Technology

Podcast: Decoding the F-15 Retirement Proposal

Apr 20, 2017

With a limited budget and a strategic need for airpower, the U.S. Air Force is weighing its future fighter fleet options. Our editors discuss the idea of retiring National Guard F-15s in favor of upgrading F-16s.

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Discuss this Video 32

on Apr 20, 2017

Having over 10000 Hours in the F-15C, D and E along with F-16CJ, JSF and F-22 the F-15 is far superior in every aspect of OCA/DCA, Strike, Fighter Sweeps, and in all F2T2EA Tactical and Strategic areas of operations. The F-15 is far superior to any other platform. The “McPeak” era of Air Force Senior Leadership including Welsh delegitimized and corrupted our future warfighting capability. These “Leaders” retire from the Pentagon and work for Rand Corp, Lockheed Martin, Northrop and Boeing as a lobbies for their tainted benefit. This is exactly what President Eisenhower predicted in the 1950’s. These folks are influencing senior decision makers at the Pentagon that they "They Promoted" into current Senior Leadership positions within the Air Force. This undue influence by retired Generals with no understanding of Warfighting provides ciaos within the ranks. JSF and F-22 is a perfect example 25 years of Development and initially no capability or radio’s that would allow communications between these platforms and the C2/C4 nodes etc… within the Battlespace not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on security.

As our new President has stated "We have Generals with no understanding of Winning". Hopefully, someone at the Whitehouse will remove these individuals and find Warfighters that understand “Stealth is nonexistent", F-35 and F-22 are worthless. We could perhaps move forward with LOS and BLOS Connectivity, longer range Weapon engagement with IFF ID. Individuals promoted under McPeak have spawned a prodigy of individuals that believe "Stealth" must be integrated into "Every" platform as stated by McPeak. As we know now "Stealth" nonexistent. The S-300, S-400, as well as other state of the art weapons being produced by our advisories will eliminate JSF, F-22, B-2, B-1 and the New B-21. The analysis has been completed and we know what will happen in each phase of operation and what “GAPS” as well as attrition rates for each platform in a 4 vs. 8, Strike, TST etc. The humorous side of these facts rest in these individuals continue to explain to congress we need these "Stealth" platforms yet during our "Warfighting Analysis, OCO's, MCO’s” we have recommended to JADO the F/A-XX and a Jamming Platform similar to the E/A-18G based on our lack of capability and threats!!! Our Leadership is not providing our Country needs, instead they are hurting our depleted forces verses helping and developing Combat capability and compressing the “Kill Chain”. Instead they are influenced by retired leaders and "the Corporate Wall Street influences such as Lockheed Martin". Another example is the A-10. We all know this platform is superior and has been superior in the CAS, ISR and NTISR arena. Rather than truly upgrading the engines, avionics, connectivity and CAS capability we are going out with a “New Contract” or stating the useless F-35 (which 2 of the 3 versions have no internal weapon/cannon for offensive or defensive maneuvering) to the Wall Street Gang (Lockheed, Northrop etc. to build a new platform. We allow these platform to “Rot on the Vine” verses improving and upgrading their capability. This is a disgrace to the American people our Warfighters!!! Hopefully our new Commander and Chief will not only drain the Swamp in Washington but also at the Corrupt Pentagon. Let’s make the Pentagon the Secretary of War instead of the Secretary of Defense.

We NEED additional F-15 with BLOS WEAPONS that can effectively engage utilizing ROE THAT ARE rational. OUR CURRENT AIR-AIR Weapon has a PK of less than 20% on a clear DAY. F-35 PROGRAM needs to be CANCELLED. We are supporting the economy of Texas for NO REASON!!! We can purchase 2 or 3 F-15S upgrade for the cost of ONE F-35. The President and "Mad Dog" Need to eliminate the current Air Force Leadership and promote some Warfighters that have no tie to the "Stealth BOYS". For some reason they cannot comprehend that STEALTH IS DEAD. We need the A-10 and the F-15. The F-35 HAS NO Close Air Support (CAS) capability even close to the A-10. F-35 cannot dogfight with the F-15 or F-16 (See DT Test Report 2016). Since 1995 we have spent 1.8 Trillion dollars and 25 YEARS of developing the F-35 platform with a future sustainment cost of 1.2 Trillion additional in Logistics costs. This is unacceptable.

on Apr 20, 2017

If what you just laid out is true and verifiable. Watch your back, because you just took the lid off of the trash can! I appreciate your analysis.
Good post!

on Apr 20, 2017

8000 hours in another comment, 10000 in this one... were they all on Microsoft flight sim or running around the yard making airplane noises?

on Apr 20, 2017

Not to mention spells White House as "Whitehouse."

on Apr 20, 2017

My eyes glaze over when I start reading too much of " I've done this and I've done that and I know whats going on" My experience with the real deal is they rarely brag or beat their own drum to prove a point.

Do they even have Flight Simulator anymore?

on Apr 20, 2017

10,000 hours fighter time?
Nice try.
Did you start when you were 5?
And you did over 300 hours each year for 33 years?

on Apr 20, 2017

I think the issue should focus the reason we are even having this discussion and if there is a reasonable solutions. First, we all know the F-16 isn't a suitable replacement for the F-15, just as the F-35 isn't a suitable replacement for the F-22. The F-15's, F-18's and F-16's have enough operational and combat history for us to know exactly what they can currently do and if updated what they would be capable of doing. The F-22 and F-35 are also starting to mature in their roles and we have a pretty good idea of what they are capable of doing and again, as updates and technology becomes available we have a good understanding of what they are and will be capable of. We all know we need many more F-22's than we currently have. We know that technology exists today that would make the F-22 far more capable. We know the F-35 has its issues but is growing into a very capable platform. We know that the threat of modern Russian and Chinese aircraft and air defense systems are taxing the capabilities of our 4th gen aircraft. We also know that unless we continue to advance our 5th and 6th gen capabilities we will eventually find ourselves on par if not behind in terms of quality and quantity. The question isn't really "what do we need". The question is, what can we afford? What will the budget look like 1,3,5 and 10 years from now. It doesn't look good. We are nearing a $20,000,000,000,000 trillion dollar debt, a $350 - $500,000,000,000 billion dollar trade deficit and our nations yearly budget is running negative to the tune of $350,000,000,000 billion at the minimum. Our military leaders are struggling to not only provide excellent equipment but they are being crushed by the weight of ever increasing lifetime benefits those who serve. So, understand that when the military leadership makes a decision that doesn't seem smart, or doesn't seem in our best interest . . . . they often have their hands tied behind their backs while pulling the trigger with their tongues. Its not an easy position to be in. Not only are budgets shrinking, costs soaring but the real rate of inflation is far higher than what the Government reports. So, until we figure out how to fix our fiscal house and all of the reasons behind our fiscal problems . . . . our military leaders will be making the best they can out of a bad situation.

on Apr 20, 2017

Updating 25 year old aircraft is not the answer. If Stealth didn't work, then the 1st Gen F117 bomber must have been lucky for 20 years. While I agree S300 and S400 anti-aircraft is formidable, defeating them MUST be the priority. Updated F15 would be disaster as primary fighter. Supporting and backup maybe, but not primary. I recall how F22 suddenly showed up alongside an Iranian F4. The pilot had no clue he was there! That's what we need.

on Apr 20, 2017

How do you expect us to believe anything you say when your basic facts are wrong?

1. The TOTAL program price (from 1995 throughout the 2050's) that includes EVERYTHING about the program (Development, production, and sustainment) is only pegged at $1.2 ~ish Trillion, not the $3 trillion you stated (read the SAR).

2. If "stealth is dead", how do you expect the F-15 to survive when current F-22s and F-35s are spanking them? If stealth is dead.. Why is your answer the F/A-XX... Another stealth platform?

3. If you were a pilot then you would have know the true purpose of the F-16 v F-35 test.

4. The AIM-120C series Pk is much higher than 20% and being a clear day is irrelevant.

on Apr 20, 2017

"Having over 10000 Hours in the F-15C, D and E along with F-16CJ, JSF and F-22 the F-15 is far superior in every aspect of OCA/DCA, Strike, Fighter Sweeps, and in all F2T2EA Tactical and Strategic areas of operations"

...said NO Eagle-turned-Raptor pilot, ever.

on Apr 20, 2017

Back to remedial math for you. Those 10000 flight hours of pulling Gs must have degraded your skills.
- 1995 to 2017 is 22 yeas not 25.
- Total spent on the F-35 to date is something like 130 Billion, an order of magnitude less than 1.8 Trillion and includes development of three different versions and 268 aircraft. To get to $1.8T you would have had to spend almost $100 million a year.
- The latest sustainment costs were estimated at just under $1.0T over 60 years including inflation.
- F-15SA, the latest version, costs more than a F-35A, both to purchase and to maintain. This is a rookie mistake and easily verified, you need to at least do the inflation trick to 1970 prices to show your point. More work, but it gives you more gravitas.

Basic rule of thumb for ranting is to ensure your numbers are at least in the ballpark of believable or people think you are not a credible source. Here are some tips.
- Get your numbers within an order of magnitude, and don't make rookie mistakes like claiming total development costs and procurement costs have been spent so far. Claiming $150B is OK, $400B and you are a poser.
- So dump the 10000 hours, even if it is true, and maybe just use time in the F-15C. Since only a relative handful of pilots get more than 3000hrs, and those are almost always senior Colonels, you probably want to stay below that to be believable. Really, there are enough people with 2000hrs that you would probably safe near that, especially since wing commanders tend to be well known within a community.
- Don't change the numbers all the time. Is it 10000 or 8000 or 10000. Pick one, stick to it.
- And are people to understand that you trained on the F-15C (air to air), slid over to the F-15E (air to ground), moved to the f-16CJ (SEAD), on to the F-22 and then the F-35. People are just going to find that unusual unless you are a test pilot. Better add that to the resume or change the aircraft types. Maybe just leave it as F-15 and F-16, that's more believable anyway. Lots of ANG guys have flown both.
- Stringing together acronyms incoherently just doesn't make you believable. Better to limit them to one or two in a coherent sentence. For instance, fighter sweeps are a part of Offensive Counter Air (OCA), so just use OCA, otherwise you are sounding like a poser. Adding strike is OK, but only the F-15E does strike, so it would be better to make that a separate argument.
- And A-10s doing ISR? Come one, someone who says A-10 is the end all to be all for CAS will get lots of people to believe him, saying it does ISR just has people scratching their heads.
- And B-1 being stealthy? I am sure you just tossed that one in by accident but that is the kind of mistake that just makes you look like you don't know what you are talking about.

And a final thing, if you are going to cut and paste, at least change it around a bit. Maybe start with the Military Industrial Complex first sometimes. That shows you might have put a little thought into it and at least makes it more enjoyable to read.

on Apr 20, 2017

Great post!! I am with you all the way. After the Gulf war almost 30 years ago we were the last super-power left and we were sitting on a mountain of cash. Now all these years later we've SUNK over a $Trillion into the useless F-22 & F-35 with no end in sight. Someone in DC needs to get their heads out of their A$$3s ASAP!! PS - Even Sweden's upcoming Gripen-NG will kill everything in our freaking Air-Force. Freaking Sweden!!

on Apr 20, 2017

Um... The F-22 and F-35 have easily defeated everything they have come up against in exercises.....

The F-35 inherits the knowledge that LM & the DoD got from the F-22 and adds a larger internal bombload, longer range, better computers & sensors, move versatility, etc and brings VLO to the Multirole Fighter arena.

Where are you getting this idea that either the F-22 or F-35 is "useless"?

on Apr 20, 2017

In the 1960s, McNamara forced the Air Force to buy the Navy's F-4 Phantom over the F-105 and F-106, the A-7 for light attack, and forced the Navy to build the doomed F-111B. The TFX was huge dud, (more because Navy discovered too late they needed a dogfighter than commonality - the Tomcat was the same mission, b ut with dogfighting added to the requirements) but with the Russians and Chinese standardizing on large SU-27 Flanker over smaller MiG-29 variants, the USAF should at least be looking at the Super Hornet which is about the same size and capability as the original F-15s, (minus 2 conformal missle stations) and replaced the F-14 (which in many respects is still the most elegant and capable heavy fighter ever built, compared to the draggy super bug) The Phantom did every mission including Blue Angels and Thunderbirds for every service, the Super Hornet would be better than upgraded F-16s. In the 60s, the Starfighter was a half-Phantom used by NATO and Asian allies as the F-16 is half a F-15, also used by Allies (though not supplied to Taiwan) As a rule any Navy fighter can be used by the air force with minimal modification

on Apr 21, 2017

I'm pretty sure Both Russia and China would love that approach of yours with a SH with lipstick ;)
Let go of the F-14, its gone alright, RIP.
I would prefer a F-15 with lipstick over any SH, and i'm sure Russia and China would not like that idea.

on Apr 20, 2017

Taiwan has F-16s.

on Apr 20, 2017

I agree with EW. Cancel the F-35, trying to make it a Swiss army knife has not worked. Upgrade the F-22, F-15 and A-10. Find a good replacement for the F-16. That's another airplane that has gone way off script and tries to be a jack of all trades, when it's truly only an interceptor as designed.

I could give you my resume as well, but the arm chair pilots out there would jump all over me.

on Apr 20, 2017

Lets see, retire F-15C, fly F-16 & F-22 @ the same time to do the F-15C job. Have to purchase upgraded F-16s, upgrade older F-16s & add to flight hours on limited F-22 aircraft. Save $$$ retiring F-15C, increase USA air cover cost by flying F-16s & F-22s more. Makes sense ONLY in USAF general ranks. Save $1, to spend $3, only in Wash. DC !

on Apr 20, 2017

I can only state facts: The USA retired it's F4 Phantom aircraft fleet way too early which caused industry to stop supporting the production of spare parts. Today Turkey, Greece, Japan and South Korea all still fly mission ready F4E Phantoms that satisfy their boarder protection needs. If history is repeated the USG will retire F16 and F15 aircraft rather then overhaul the airframes and upgrade the engines to keep them as viable mission ready aircraft. I think most of this is industry encouraged to produce new aircraft even though they may not be as functional or as capable as the legacy aircraft that are being replaced.

During WWII production was very high in numbers, there is no hope to produce any volume close to those numbers or fill the need for trained Aviators to fly any great numbers of aircraft...just facts stated which are not deniable.

on Apr 20, 2017

We cannot make the wrong decision here. National Security should trump politics. at some point jets will engage WVR, cannot be limited by range, weapons or survivability. We are moving into a new era but! we cannot risk our national security during the transition. I'm thankful we are at least having the discussion. It is obvious there were no good options for JSF, the X-32 was bad and the F-35 is bad. we're stuck with the decision. So we have to work our way out of this and we will. I am partial to a platform and I wear it on my sleeve. That said I will gladly make room for a more capable jet...... when it arrives. It's not here yet. Heck if we just need numbers pull the lead sled out of retirement, it can take a beating and keep flying maybe not as good as the F-15 but close.

on Apr 20, 2017

So if making the "wrong decision" involves believing the people who created the spec, developed the JSF, tested it 's capabilities, and the pilots currently using it operationally...

What is the "right decision" and what do you base it on?

on Apr 20, 2017

You are all missing the point. All are focused on physical airframe abilities and the future is about real time data decisions.

When 3 Saab Gripens in full data link can take out a single F-35 from BVD with only the loss of one Gripen , it becomes a battle of attrition, not what has a gun or can out ess another.

AESA, in flight computing power, and full data link is where the future gen planes can and will excel.

All those airframes are excellent and do great things and depending on the battle type may still be needed, but right now its not about those things.

on Apr 20, 2017

Um... 3 x GripenE's costs a LOT more than a single F-35. Per the most recent info, an FRP F-35A costs maybe $15 mil more than a GripenE.

Btw, the F-35's AESA & Data Fusion capability puts the Gripen's to shame.

on Apr 20, 2017

The Airforce has to many platforms in service. For example when the B-21 comes into service do we really need a large numbers of the F-15E? Do we really need the B2 or even the B52. I would think a larger number of B 21s would actually compensate for it's smaller size and payload. Keep the Bone for it's speed, range, and payload. It was ment to replace the B 52. Personally I think it's time to take every thing we know that works and apply it to the F 22 airframe in a 5.5 gen form. Unnecessary electronics in the name of time can be installed/upgraded later. Ahhhh...But that sounds to logical for our government?

on Apr 20, 2017

Fascinating discussion despite the attacks on people's credibility, there are some real experts among you.

Sadly no matter which way you look at it, when you get old it is time to retire and no one wants to admit it is time to go so the old pilots among you in your day the F15 was the best, but your day is past.

In modern aerial warfare against an equally credible peer aerial dog fights are over. It is now who has the best sensors and who can hide for the longest before the enemy's sensors sees you and who has the best air to air missiles. Guns on modern fighters why bother you are never going to get close enough to use them.

Air-frames that have been around since the 1970s should be retired. Lets learn from the Cavalry officers who insisted they were relevant in the 20th Century and it took the First World War to convince them their days were past. Fighter pilots of old will soon be replaced with a new breed who are taught to fight on gaming consoles and pilot airplanes that look like gaming consoles from the cockpit.

The air-frames they must enhance and develop with better sensors and weapons are the F35 and F22 and what ever comes after them, which is probably unmanned and operated by teenagers from a gaming console.

So lets agree in its day the F15 was magnificent, lets pension it off and move on to newer and better airplanes.

on Apr 20, 2017

It's ok for what will happen. The U.S. still has nukes. If you cannot beat them....nuke them....Japan remembers.

on Apr 20, 2017

Here is an idea just as McDonnell Douglas "developed" the Super Hornet from the limited Hornet on the 1990s, get Lockheed to develop the "Super Raptor", using two F135 engines with the thrust vector nozzle in a modified F22 air-frame, use F35 software, avionics, sensors electronics and communications and whatever else you can from the F35 and F22 aircraft rather than waste money on enhancing a 40 year old air-frame.

In the old days their skunk works would have already done this!

on Apr 21, 2017

"Guns on modern fighters why bother you are never going to get close enough to use them."

I have heard that one before.

on Apr 21, 2017

@Mark

Not having a gun is a non-issue as the F-35A (the version being build for the vast majority of clients) has a gun.

Second, when the F-4 tried the whole "no gun" thing, missile pk was pitiful & tactical training almost non-existent.

While the AF addressed the issue with by adding a strap-on gun and doing an internal gun on the F-4E, the USN started Top Gun along with other increases in training and both increased their kill ratios.

on Apr 21, 2017

"The USA retired it's F4 Phantom aircraft fleet way too early . . ."

The last USAF QF-4 operations happened late last year. I remember watching an F4H turning final to Oceana in 1960 thinking "who stepped on the Demon" in 1960. 2016 minus 1960, Fifty -six years is too early?

It was a great airplane but its heyday was long, long, ago.

on Apr 21, 2017

How much time would it take to develop and produce a dedicated air superiority fighter? No multirole BS but a dedicated air superiority fighter. If the F-15C/D starts retiring in 2024 is it completely impossible to have something ready to fight by then? I know a decade to a decade and a half seems to be the new norm for developing a new combat aircraft, but can industry do a dedicated air superiority aircraft in 7 years? Probably not.

on Apr 21, 2017

@EW.. I almost missed another complete BS Claim on one of your "facts".

----"JSF and F-22 is a perfect example 25 years of Development and initially no capability or radio’s that would allow communications between these platforms and the C2/C4 nodes etc…"

While the F-22 lacks native Link-16 transmit (it's getting it soon), it can always use a BACN (or other) relay to communicate data to a C2/C4 node.

On top of that, the F-35 has ALWAYS had full voice, Link-16, and MADL Tx/Rx capabilities with SATCOM coming in Block 4.

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