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22 hours ago, kalvasflam said:

 

The comparison was obviously made in jest.  But you know, quantity has a quality all on its own, so said a crazed Georgian once.  I think they built quite a few P-38, I wonder if they'll get up to a fraction of that number with the F-35.  And in response to your comment about the F-35 killing targets BVR.  That is true, as long as they can reach the target.  Yes, you're of course correct, in combat these days, everything is chained together, the US showed that years ago.  This is the real reason no one wants to play against the USAF or the USN, there are just too many assets that has the ability to amplify what even a weaker aircraft could do.

The US alone is ordering 1763 of the A variant. Barring any sudden order cancellations by customers, it'll probably be the most numerous 5th gen aircraft for decades.

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21 minutes ago, AN/ALQ128 said:

The US alone is ordering 1763 of the A variant. Barring any sudden order cancellations by customers, it'll probably be the most numerous 5th gen aircraft for decades.

That is true, and I think so far the deliveries are somewhere in the 300 units range.  But planning to buy vs actual buys are two different things, do you recall how many B-2s the service was originally slated to buy, how about F-22,  I do recall at one point the USAF was also planning to buy 750 at the very start of the program, then it got cut over and over again until we ended up with 180+ units.  

I do think that you're right, under any circumstances, the F-35 will be the numerous 5th generation aircraft.  Mainly because of all of the other countries committed to the program, that is unless the Chinese decide to mass produce their versions in any number.  But we'll see how many units the USAF actually buys. 

One other fun statistic, the F-35 carries 180 rounds of 25 mm ammo, compared to the 500+ rounds of 20 mm ammo carried by an F-16.  I would guess the F-35 won't be doing much of a gun run, and don't get me started on that vs 1100+ rounds of 30 mm the A-10 can carry.  Sure, we can say that the F-35 don't need no stinking guns for close air support, because it can tote JDAMs and other munitions in its place, just to note, the internal stores on the F-35 is about 5700 lbs, sure it can install external hard points, and get up to about the same load as an F-16.  But then, the plane won't be so stealthy with those external stores sticking out.

By the way, for those that think my only goal is to slam the F-35, it isn't.  I think sadly, the problem with the F-35 is that it is set up for the wrong missions, or rather, the USAF has decided it needed to buy so many units to make it economical that it was forced to shoehorn the plane into a multitude of missions it wasn't really designed for.  Going back again to the multirole vs single role argument.

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1 hour ago, kalvasflam said:

There is an argument to be made about multi-role and single role type aircraft.  The best versions of so called multi-role aircraft in my opinion started out with a single role, and then expanded, I'm of course talking about the F-15.  One could argue all of the other 4th generation fighters and bombers were single role aircraft to start with.   The F-16 is a light attack, same for the F-18, and the F-14 was an all around interceptor specific to the Navy.  The extensions on the F-16 and the F-18 mainly ended up in foreign markets (super hornets notwithstanding) where the need became multi-role.  After all, the operators of the F-16 and F-18 had dual roles for both types.  The F-22 was also a single role aircraft.   And I don't think I would be too far off to suggest that had the production continued, they could've evolved a version of the -22 to a Strike Raptor.  

The F-35 was a disaster of a multi-role aircraft, one could in fact argue that if the services went with just three separate designs, they would've been better off.  The A variants would have been the light attack replacement for the F-16s.  The B variant would have been a  close support type for the Marines, and the C variant would've been dedicated attack variant for the Navy.  The F-35 became primarily an air force aircraft (owing to the economics involved) and the marine variant came off as a little brother, while the navy version became an unwanted stepchild.  The only reason the -C has longer legs and better structural frames is because of the need to land the plane on a carrier.

It's a bit sad that the US naval aviation has been reduced to such a sad state, in the days of the Soviet Union, each carrier air wing had 90 plus aircraft, now they barely field 60.  There is no more long range attack (A-6), no dedicated sub hunters (S-3), no dedicated interceptors per se (F-14), only two specific airframes that are dedicated to multiple roles, F-18 for tanker, EW, light attack, interceptor, none of which are performed especially well compared to their single role counterparts.  Then there is the F-35 for (I guess light attack) whatever role that it gets slotted for.  Hopefully, with the 6th generation and the advent of UCAS, the USN will get back to more of its roots on the carriers.

 

The F-16 and F-18 were never envisioned to be light attack. They were both to be light weight day-fighters carrying nothing more than 2~4 short-range AAMs, and a gun. No radar and no bomb racks of any kind. But almost immediately into development more equipment and missions were asked and put on the F-16. By the time of the Block15 , it was far removed from the basic day fighter envisioned by Col. Boyd and the "Fighter Mafia"

The F-15 was technically supposed to be a air-superiority fighter only with "not a pound for ground". But the fact was McDonnell Douglas engineers knew it would eventually be tasked for ground attack and allowed room in the design for it. Hence the reason why they were able to propose the Strike Eagle in short order.

Hard to say that the F-35 is a disaster. It has yet to be proven. The only real demerit it has currently is its high cost. Though that will come down so long as the buyers don't back down. Keeping in mind that high cost is what really doomed the production of the F-22. If Congress had allowed Israel, Japan, Australia, and perhaps other friendly countries to buy the F-22, the cost might have come down enough to continue production and not have required the F-35 to take on so many roles.

The F-35 isn't really light attack. Total weapons payload is 18,000lbs - whch is exactly the same as the old A-6.

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1 hour ago, Vifam7 said:

The F-35 isn't really light attack. Total weapons payload is 18,000lbs - whch is exactly the same as the old A-6.

It can only carry that much if it abandons any semblance of stealth though.  Internal weapons carriage is much less than that.

It will have to prove itself in the field, no doubt, but I don't think the F-35 platform has received quite as much flak as the development process itself.  The plane's hardware and software are at such a level of complexity that they will be under constant development for probably the next two or three decades.  Throwing out new requirements for upgrades and new capabilities is not something that can be taken lightly.

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I agree, if it wants to have an RCS like the old A-6.  But you know the funny thing is, it doesn't have quite the legs like the A-6.  I suppose the advantage is that it can go much faster.  

The F-22 did have high costs, which would have come down with more production units I think.  But we won't know for sure.  The only real truth is that the Pentagon were staffed with fools who thought Lockheed Martin could be trusted with not going over budget.  It's reasons like this why there is such a thing as firmed fixed pricing, and why companies like ULA gets their butt handed to them by Space X.  

 

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I'm curious what the combat radius is, for F-35 vs A-6, both carrying 18K loads.  

And considering the Marines used both, I wonder what max payload for a still-VSTOL-capable F-35B is. 

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I suspect the 35’s gun is computer-targeted, like the MiG-29’s was supposed to be. Basically, it won’t fire until you have a gun solution that’s almost guaranteed to hit. And if that’s true, a couple rounds will be all that’s needed to knock down anything that flies. 

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1 hour ago, David Hingtgen said:

I'm curious what the combat radius is, for F-35 vs A-6, both carrying 18K loads.  

And considering the Marines used both, I wonder what max payload for a still-VSTOL-capable F-35B is. 

If you believe Wikipedia, the combat range of the A-6 with max payload is 878 nm.  The F-35A with internal load only is 760 nm, so I would have to guess it would be  lower if it carried a full load out which would compromise stealth.  

The funny thing is that the proponents of the F-35 has alternatively said that the plane is needed because its stealth characteristics would enable it to survive modern air defenses, and access regions that were defended by modern day SAMs.  Then, they tout the fact that to compensate for the lack of ordinance, the F-35 has so called beast mode that sacrifices its stealth characteristics so that once the area's defenses are fully suppressed, the F-35 can roll in with max bomb load to blast the ever loving crap out of the ground targets.

So, this makes beast mode sounds great, but why would you even need an F-35 with beast mode in that case.  Why not just have  F-35 in SEAD role only, and then followed it up with two dozen F-15Es or F-18E/F which carries either comparable or more ordinance into the defended area.  Both types would be cheaper, although in the case if the F-18 E/F, you'd have to argue that they don't have legs.  And both would make a fantastic missile truck, without ever worrying about compromising stealth, because, hey, they aren't stealthy.  The USN really needs to bring back something like the A-6, something that can carry a load, have legs, and don't have to be necessarily stealthy.

Also, isn't the F-35B designed to replace the AV-8Bs?   I think the marines are supposed to get some F-35Cs too, right?

 

Edited by kalvasflam

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3 hours ago, kalvasflam said:

If you believe Wikipedia, the combat range of the A-6 with max payload is 878 nm.  The F-35A with internal load only is 760 nm, so I would have to guess it would be  lower if it carried a full load out which would compromise stealth.  

So, this makes beast mode sounds great, but why would you even need an F-35 with beast mode in that case.  Why not just have  F-35 in SEAD role only, and then followed it up with two dozen F-15Es or F-18E/F which carries either comparable or more ordinance into the defended area.  Both types would be cheaper, although in the case if the F-18 E/F, you'd have to argue that they don't have legs.  And both would make a fantastic missile truck, without ever worrying about compromising stealth, because, hey, they aren't stealthy.  The USN really needs to bring back something like the A-6, something that can carry a load, have legs, and don't have to be necessarily stealthy.

Also, isn't the F-35B designed to replace the AV-8Bs?   I think the marines are supposed to get some F-35Cs too, right?

 

That's why the USN is keeping a bunch of Super Hornets around, and upgrading them to Block 3 standard (prologing service life by a couple decades). The F-35 has the software capability to send sensor data to other USN aircraft, which means theoretically the Lightning might never need to fire its own weapons in anger. It can act as a stealthy forward observer, sending target info to Super Hornets following just outside the range of any SAM networks, and thus allowing the Super Hornets to fire without risking being shot down.

Hell, with the MADL, the F-35 can send target data to USN surface vessels equipped with baseline 9 Aegis Combat System, again vastly increasing the range at which the F-35 can deal with threats.

The beast mode is just a concept that illustrates the fact that, if there is no tactical need for stealth, the F-35 can carry a ton of ordinance.

And yeah, the Marines are buying B variants to replace the Harriers.

Edited by AN/ALQ128
minor additional info

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14 hours ago, Sildani said:

I suspect the 35’s gun is computer-targeted, like the MiG-29’s was supposed to be. Basically, it won’t fire until you have a gun solution that’s almost guaranteed to hit. And if that’s true, a couple rounds will be all that’s needed to knock down anything that flies. 

I'm kind of curious about this as well. From what I've read, the M61 Vulcan with its bullet spread functions almost like a long-range shotgun. That being said, I still think the AF should have opted for the 25mm gunpod that carries 220 rounds.

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12 hours ago, AN/ALQ128 said:

The beast mode is just a concept that illustrates the fact that, if there is no tactical need for stealth, the F-35 can carry a ton of ordinance.

Odd though, no one has mentioned what the range would be for the beast mode F-35.   Cause all of a sudden, it's carrying about an extra 10K lbs.  Would be hilarious if the F-35s neutralized the anti-air threat, loaded up for beast mode, and then found out that the plane just can't get there.  

Yes, yes, I know about tankers, and F-18s and jointness and all of that.  Doesn't it seem like after a while, all of the F-35 defenders are just making excuses for this plane.

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Presumably though the idea is that once you've eliminated (or at least, largely neutralised) the anti-air (or anti-surface, for that matter) threat, you can move the support assets closer? How far could a F-117 go? And that could carry, what, 2 x 2,000lbs at most? And yet a plane that absolutely couldn't dogfight and had no self-defence capability at all doesn't seem to attract the same ire the F-35 does. (I know that - and after pointing it out myself previously! - I'm not exactly making fair comparisons but I'm trying to play Devils advocate here).

Incidentally, according to Wikipedia (yeah, I know), the F-15Es combat radius is roughly the same as the F-35 (presumably the A or C variant, anyway)...?

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Ah, here we get into the definition of combat radius.  

It is really a question of what load is being carried, right?  I think we could probably use some better definition here, the F-15E does indeed have the same combat radius as the F-35, but the devil is in the details.  Is this combat radius a reference to while the F-15 is loaded with 22K lbs of ordinance and full fuel load or something else?  Because the F-35 combat radius is similar only when loaded with internal air to air configuration.

It doesn't say anything about what the interdiction mission load out is with just a 670 nm of combat radius.  Whether that is an internal load of ~6K lbs, or the full max load out of 18K lb s, it isn't really stated.  I noticed also that Lockheed is a little vague in their other literature.  And it would make a big difference if this was beast mode vs the I carry just two JDAM internally mode.  

Just pure curiosity.   But I think you'd see the obvious difference.  I suppose we'll never know until the F-35 goes into a well defended air space that actually stretches its capabilities and have demands to kill multiple targets.  The Israeli experience with Syria doesn't count that much given how close the actual targets are.  But in truth, such flights would never operate alone, it would be a part of a package.  The only real question is whether those packages are optimal with just F-35s or could they have done it with a combo of 4th and 5th generation aircraft.

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I take the point, although I think its a little unlikely the F-15E is going to have that stated combat radius with 22,000lbs of stuff under it. And as you say, the F-35 will be part of a package. Its arguably a more pertinent question for those nations that don't have more of everything like the US does, and for whom the F-35 is going to be the only fighter asset. But its still interesting that the F-117 with two bombs seems to be regarded as having been perfectly adequate for first-day(s) strikes that can be followed up with less stealthy aircraft carrying larger loads, but the F-35 is the demon spawn from aviation hell for essentially doing the same thing, and the only difference being that the follow-up strikes will be F-35s being less stealthy with external loads. 

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I think the difference here is that the F-117 had a dedicated role and were built in low quantities, 50 something units altogether.  The F-35 is a multi role fighter that will see production in excess of 2,000 units and be slotted into a bunch of different roles.  So, it's the envisioned role that matters, F-35 is supposed to be a fighter bomber designed to conduct a variety of different mission.  The F-117 was designed as a tactical penetration bomber.   Not meant to act as a dog fighter, or a bomb truck, or any of those missions.  I figured it could probably be really good at SEAD, but somewhat limited given that it carried only two weapons, although I suppose if it was still around, it could've been used to carry more than two SBDs.   After all, nobody wanted to buy thousands of F-117s each carrying two bombs or four AAMs, you can imagine the cry of consternation if that had happened.

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But thats the thing isn't it? If the technology had existed at the time, would they have built the F-117 or something more akin to the F-35?  Lockheed certainly wanted more F-117s, or at least derivatives of them (including a scaled up version as a kind-of B2), so had history and politics taken a different turn its possible we would be now talking about dozens, if not hundreds, of F-117s... would anyone have bit I wonder if the F-35 proposal had been for a souped-up but still limited role subsonic strike bomber...?  

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meh, now we're talking a question of business and how the government wants to spend its money.   This is why the aerospace industry is so screwed up.  The Pentagon wanted cheap and good, and Lockheed apparently knew how to play the game better than anybody else, so they won.  And in reality, the Pentagon go neither cheap nor good.  They got barely middle of the road in terms of capabilities and expensive.  Imagine if the Pentagon went out to Boeing, NGC, and LM, then said there were five programs, USAF air superiority fighter, USAF tactical bomber, USN long range strike, USN air superiority, and something for the marines.  My guess is there might have been more up front costs, but you would've ended up with best in class on multiple single role weapon systems.   But now we're getting way beyond the merits of the plane.

But the die is already cast, the USN is going to be all about having F-35 scouting things out to provide targeting data to F-18s, which are basically missile trucks.  One better hope that entire chain is robust, because the F-35 needs to tank at some point, the E-2s are fairly vulnerable to potential stealth fighter, and the F-18s have large RCS.  So, we'll see what happens.  As Bill Paxton would say: "tip of the spear, crack of my ass"

Edited by kalvasflam

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2 hours ago, kalvasflam said:

meh, now we're talking a question of business and how the government wants to spend its money.   This is why the aerospace industry is so screwed up.  The Pentagon wanted cheap and good, and Lockheed apparently knew how to play the game better than anybody else, so they won.  And in reality, the Pentagon go neither cheap nor good.  They got barely middle of the road in terms of capabilities and expensive.  Imagine if the Pentagon went out to Boeing, NGC, and LM, then said there were five programs, USAF air superiority fighter, USAF tactical bomber, USN long range strike, USN air superiority, and something for the marines.  My guess is there might have been more up front costs, but you would've ended up with best in class on multiple single role weapon systems.   But now we're getting way beyond the merits of the plane.

 

The problem is, how you can convince the bean counters and general public to spend billions on 5 different single mission aircraft when the recent air force/navy inventory is rife with aircraft that can more than adequately perform multiple mission types.

The problem with single mission aircraft is that it also limits flexibility and the number of assets. For example, currently, a typical carrier air wing in terms of fixed wing combat aircraft assets consists of 4 SHornet squadrons, and a Growler squadron. If you break those 5 squadrons into specialized single mission types, you might end up short of the aircraft type you need in a given situation. Let's say 3 squadrons were A-6-like long range attack, one a EW squadron, and one a F-14-like fleet defender squadron. Well, if theater had no need for SEAD and no opposing air force, then 2 of the squadrons on the deck is basically useless. 

 

Edited by Vifam7

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Seems more apparent going into the future axing concepts like the FB-22/FB-23 is going to bite if there is a need for a deep strike aircraft that can operate farther while carrying a heavier internal loadout than the current F-35.

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You won't get any argument from me about how messed up defence procurement is [1] - and remember, I'm British. :lol:

[1] Though I will point out, as ever, its not always a one way journey down Overspend & Underperform Avenue. For whatever reason, we "British" (though more accurately, in co-operation with our European/American partners) seem to be pretty good at missiles for example...

Edited by F-ZeroOne

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5 hours ago, F-ZeroOne said:

Possibly slightly worried about other companies developing similar concepts like the S-97 "Raider":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_S-97_Raider

 

Maybe they're worried about several things...

 

 

They did lose an AH-64 in Japan to a "main rotor assembly issue" recently?

sounds related.,.

Edited by slide

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18 hours ago, F-ZeroOne said:

But won't the B-21 handle the "Deep Strike" role?

As a heavy bomber? Yes. But you don't always need or want to use such an expensive asset. What I was referring to is a medium bomber/interdiction aircraft. Something the Air Force has really needed since retiring the F-111. The F-15E has done okay but still lacks some of the range. The Russians have certainly filled this role with the Su-34.

Edited by Shadow

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40 minutes ago, Shadow said:

As a heavy bomber? Yes. But you don't always need or want to use such an expensive asset. What I was referring to is a medium bomber/interdiction aircraft. Something the Air Force has really needed since retiring the F-111. The F-15E has done okay but still lacks some of the range. The Russians have certainly filled this role with the Su-34.

The USAF has lately not been shy of using expensive assets. Afterall, they used B-1s for close air support.

If they're actually going to buy 100+ (maybe up to 200) B-21s, there will likely be enough assets to go around. Against an enemy that might have modern SAM systems, the B-21 will probably be the best asset to use for deep strike roles. However, if they don't buy enough B-21s, that could result in a huge capability gap.

Edited by Vifam7

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Yeah, it was the numbers compared to the B-2 that made me think of the B-21. They built 563 F-111s, but that was divided between the various models so that the number dedicated to "tactical" strike would probably have been less I guess...

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6 hours ago, Vifam7 said:

The USAF has lately not been shy of using expensive assets. Afterall, they used B-1s for close air support.

If they're actually going  to buy 100+ (maybe up to 200) B-21s, there will likely be enough assets to go around. Against an enemy that might have modern SAM systems, the B-21 will probably be the best asset to use for deep strike roles. However, if they don't buy enough B-21s, that could result in a huge capability gap.

yep, a 100, a nice round number, let's hope they don't end up with 21 units.  But if you think about it, the B-2s now are used in tactical actions on the first day anyhow.  In fact, it would be fair to say that the B-2 has more or less replaced the F-117, with the biggest difference being that the aircraft aren't forward deployed like the -117s were.

I think the B-1s do get fairly forward deployed, right?

Then the B-21 is probably also going to have the nuclear strike role too.  After all, that's the original purpose of the B-2, I believe it is still considered a part of the triad along with the B-52s, although I don't think the B-1s are nuclear capable any more under START.

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7 hours ago, kalvasflam said:

yep, a 100, a nice round number, let's hope they don't end up with 21 units.  But if you think about it, the B-2s now are used in tactical actions on the first day anyhow.  In fact, it would be fair to say that the B-2 has more or less replaced the F-117, with the biggest difference being that the aircraft aren't forward deployed like the -117s were.

I think the B-1s do get fairly forward deployed, right?

Then the B-21 is probably also going to have the nuclear strike role too.  After all, that's the original purpose of the B-2, I believe it is still considered a part of the triad along with the B-52s, although I don't think the B-1s are nuclear capable any more under START.

I think it's safe to say the B-2 has had to add the F-117's tactical-ninja-bomber role to it's collection of duties... although that may change again when F-35 and F-22 are actually deployed together and working in-tandem.

 

Perhaps the B-21's will simply be redesigns taking account of the lessons from Spirit [*cough*WATER-PROOFING*cough*] with new options/capabilities for a more tactically focused role..

 

you are correct about the B-1B being de-Nuked with START, but I thought that was a removal of certain systems and modification of pylons thing... given enough lead-time they can totally be made to be capable again...

The B-1 can sling cruise-missiles Like the JASSM, so if they make a nuclear warhead for those............. or a new missile using the same mountings, then why not?

it's kinda like everyone looking at the new Japanese  Carrier  "Helicopter-Destroyer" and saying: "Yea, but if you BOLT a Ski-jump to it...." and the JMSDF replying "Yea, but we Didn't/Haven't, so :p!"

Edited by slide

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True, the B-2s are forward deployed at Anderson, and the only hull loss also occurred there.  But it doesn't matter.  The B-2 had to add the ninja missions of the F-117 because, well, they chopped up the -117s since it was "old technology."  However the B-2 has to live somewhere since there is no SAC any more.   The nice thing of course is that there is much longer range on the B-2, and the ability to carry more ordinance.  But unfortunately, the B-2s have never been used to their full potential, which was to penetrate Soviet air space.   Let's face it, most of the B-2 missions up until now could've been done by the B-1s or ALCMs.

There was nothing special about those missions.  

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19 minutes ago, kalvasflam said:

True, the B-2s are forward deployed at Anderson, and the only hull loss also occurred there.  But it doesn't matter.  The B-2 had to add the ninja missions of the F-117 because, well, they chopped up the -117s since it was "old technology."  However the B-2 has to live somewhere since there is no SAC any more.   The nice thing of course is that there is much longer range on the B-2, and the ability to carry more ordinance.  But unfortunately, the B-2s have never been used to their full potential, which was to penetrate Soviet air space.   Let's face it, most of the B-2 missions up until now could've been done by the B-1s or ALCMs.

There was nothing special about those missions.  

I hope you mean CALCMs [AGM-86C/D]...  as ALCMs [AGM-86B, the nuclear ones] would've made a mission all kinds of special :yahoo:lol.

 

Also since they lost that 117 in the Balkans it's not only old, but probably compromised tech too...

I've never wondered how Russia/China came up with the skins for Su-57, J-20 and J-31 all within a super-short span of eachother...

 

Unless the Brits went Full-"Rolls Royce Nene" again selling cutting-edge aviation tech to Russia.....................................................................

Edited by slide

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While I’m not sure exactly when they replaced it, but Lakehurst has a new display plane at its entrance. 

EC4CEA66-E3DB-4DB1-A555-46A5A4A8F594.jpeg

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6 hours ago, slide said:

it's kinda like everyone looking at the new Japanese  Carrier  "Helicopter-Destroyer" and saying: "Yea, but if you BOLT a Ski-jump to it...." and the JMSDF replying "Yea, but we Didn't/Haven't, so :p!"

As you know, Japan doesn't have an army - it has a self defence force.  So calling the "Helicopter-Destroyer" anything but a Destroyer (a ship for self defence) will make both the citizens and the neighbours angry.

But they're not the only ones.  The Russian carriers are called "heavy aviation-carrying cruisers"; to be able to transit the Turkish Straights.  And those even have a ski-jump built in!!

Edited by sketchley

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And then there were our "Invincible" class through-deck cruisers, a name so blatantly transparent that they were sometimes referred to as "see-through cruisers"!

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