Monday, April 2, 2012

A Strategy For The 21st Century, Part 8: The Air Force

     The Air Force. Airpower has in the last 100 year, determined America's success on the battlefield, and is the key to winning a war. That is why the Air Force is so important. However, the Air Force is among all the services, is the service with the most problems, here they are, and some ideas on how to fix them.
     1. Stand By The F-35A to the end. Have a contingency ready if the F-35 is canceled. The Air Force has hung it's hat on the F-35A, and must not back down. In recent months, writers like Carlo Kopp of Air Power Australia, and Bill Sweetman of Aviation Week has stepped up attacks on the F-35 (I tend to agree with them on the fact that the F-35 is a piece of crap, but at the same time a piece of crap is better than no piece of crap). The Air Force must move forward and defend the F-35A, they have done an excellent job of this, but must keep it up. Also, the Air Focre must have a Plan B in case something does happen to the F-35A, something along the lines of the F-15SE, F-16E/F, or a watered down F-22. 
     2. Develop a new ICBM and nuclear weapons. The U.S. has not developed a new ICBM since 1986, and a new nuclear weapon since 1988 (as a interesting side not, the U.S. has not conducted a nuclear test since Operation Julin in 1992). The Air Force has begun looking into developing a new ICBM to replace the Minuteman III. However, as I outlined in "Air Force Looking Into Producing A New ICBM"  there will be many problems with developing a new ICBM, especially since the the skills honed during the Cold War have been all but lost. 
     3. Develop a replacement for the B-52. The B-52 was developed in 1945, but was not actually fielded until mid-1955. The B-52 was originally a long range nuclear bomber, but is now used as a low cost bomb truck. The B-52 can carry 32,000kg (70000lbs) worth of ordnance, and with it's long range it was optimal for staying over an area and providing air support as needed. The Air Force plans to operate the B-52 through 2040, 85 years since it was first fielded in 1955. The problem here is that the Air Force has no plan for after 2040. The Air Force needs to have a replacement for the B-52 ready before 2040, as they would lose an extremely valuble capability with the retirement of the B-52.
    4. Develop a replacement for the A-10. As of 2012, the Air Force plans to field the A-10 through 2028, when it will be replaced by the F-35A. This is NOT  a smart move by the Air Force, the A-10 is designed to go low and slow and take a lot of punishment, and still get the pilot home (see example here, point made?). The F-35 simply cannot absorb several dozen 23mm hits and stay airborne.
     Once again, these are just a series of ideas, that if implemented would go aoong way towards bringing the Air Force back on track.

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