Skip to comments.Boeing plots return to next-generation fighter market
Posted on 05/07/2010 5:34:07 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
Boeing plots return to next-generation fighter market
By Stephen Trimble on May 7, 2010
Boeing graciously heeded my pleas to interview someone about their 1/16th scale model and poster (above) at Navy League displaying two concepts for an all-new fighter jet that would appear after 2025.
I admit the idea of launching a development program for a new, at least optionally-manned fighter seems ludicrous after the early termination of F-22 production -- not to mention the ongoing concerns about F-35 cost and performance.
But a Boeing official told me the acquisition process for a new fighter for the US Navy and US Air Force has already begun. The navy has renamed its program from F/A-XX to next generation air dominance (NGAD) as it enters the analysis of alternatives stage. The air force, meanwhile, also is starting an alternatives study for an F-22 replacement.
As far-fetched as the idea seams, there is a real need. After the F-35 replaces the navy's F/A-18Cs and the air force's F-16s and A-10s, something has to replace the F/A-18E/F and F-22.
Boeing is betting that something will be a clean-sheet, tailless fighter design. Concepts displayed at Navy League show off a 40,000lb-class fighter for carrier decks. The air force would likely need an airframe at least 50% larger to replace the 60,000lb-class F-22. If the airframes are not common, the air force and navy would likely be pressured to share the cockpit avionics and -- possibly -- engines.
Read a preview of my full story in next week's magazine on the jump.
Boeing unveils strike fighter options
Boeing used the show to reveal two concepts for a stealthy, tailless, supercruising strike fighter to replace the US Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornets after 2025.
Both twin-engine concepts, which feature optionally piloted cockpits, resemble a modern-day replacement for the ill-fated A-12 Avenger. The carrier-based stealth bomber project was cancelled in 1991 amid cost overruns and technical problems.
But the provisionally 9g-rated airframes also reflect the air-to-air performance once provided by the Grumman F-14, says Dave Thieman, a development official in Boeing's advanced global strike systems division.
Talk of replacing the F/A-18E/F, which entered service from 1999, may seem premature, but the earliest stages of the navy's acquisition process have already started. "They're going to need [replacement] vehicles beyond 2025," says Thieman.
In June 2008, navy officials unveiled an F/A-XX requirement, including manned and unmanned airframe options.
More recently, the service has renamed the requirement as next generation air dominance (NGAD), seeking to widen the possibilities to include new airframes or land-based systems, such as missiles.
An analysis of alternatives is expected to start in late 2011, potentially leading to a technology demonstration phase with competing prototypes about two years later.
Boeing's rivals are likely to include both manned and unmanned options.
For Boeing, NGAD represents a strategic opportunity to re-enter the US market for next-generation strike aircraft, which seemed lost after Lockheed Martin claimed the Joint Strike Fighter contract.
Boeing officials have focused on the navy's thinking for a Super Hornet replacement that remains at least 15 years away.
The company understands that its potential customer wants a replacement with more engine power to supercruise, with the low observable aircraft to also carry internal weapons, distributed sensors and have extreme agility.
"It's a [Lockheed] F-22 on the carrier," Thieman says. Meanwhile, the US Air Force has launched a capabilities-based analysis for an F-22 replacement. Like the Super Hornet, the fighter remains in active production, but the air force expects a replacement will be required after 2025.
If funding for a replacement programme can be found, there is likely to be pressure for the air force and navy to launch a joint technology demonstration.
In that situation, the air force may require a bigger airframe than a carrier-based fighter, though the projects could share common engines, systems and weapons, Thieman believes.
We’ll have to fight WW3 somehow. Hey at least Boeing is paying attention, even if Barry isn’t.
2. By 2025, this Country may find the aircraft unaffordable.
Try 2011. The country will be broke and that money is needed for social justice and equality.
The sheep keep watching TV which supports the regime. All the networks control 95% of the channels. The networks support you know who, are part of the left and support Islamification which is what they did in the UK.
“Oh but I watch Fox.” Fox is partially owned by the Saudis who are behine the mega mosque being built at Ground Zero in NYC.
WWIII was the Cold War.
We've been fighting WWIV ever since.
We're going to use F-35's to gun ditches with five third world guys with AK's and a RPG?
by 2025, a war may make this expense necessary...
ain’t no way the F-35 can do the A-10’s mission
The aircraft could even be unmanned
Then it will be too late.
Seems as though many of the subsequent posters do not agree that we may go broke.
Something to think about- a lot of money gets put into piloted aircraft. With the Predator drones, and the like, how far are we away from a remotely controlled fighter, with no actual pilot in it?
China will loan us the money to...um...if...
( We can print it, too! )
Brilliant. Money for development of the 22 and 35 squandered for high cost low numbers airplanes.
At least Boeing can build airplanes and deliver them pretty much on time. Lockheed-Martin, not so much it seems.
Shared engines? In two airplanes with a 50% difference in weight? That’ll be interesting. One a rocket and the other a led sled.
I wouldn’t be surprised if by then all military fighters and bombers are pilotless.
we could also design it so the electronics could be easily upgraded, but that would make too much sense, I guess...
Many? The country is broike. Keep watching ball games and supporting the TV networks that support the regime. You have no clue what is going on. The mission? Oh Afghanistan and Iraq? The muslims have their man in the white house. The wars are just a sideshow and are meaningless now.
The Joint Chiefs are spineless. Defense of America is now just a business. The invaders already made it through.
If we chose to build another A-10 style aircraft I bet it could be done within 18 months for $10 million a copy and we could make 2,000 of them.
We failed to learn from WWII the battle of the tanks: Germany had few expensive and extremely capable tanks. We had lots of cheap and less capable Shermans. We won.
And F-15Cs and -Es, Mr. Trimble.
With it's Electro Optical Targeting System (EOTS,) derrived from the Sniper pod, it can plink tanks or jihadis with Small Diameter Bombs more effectively from a safer altitude than the A-10 can with its 30mm of goodness.
How much testing have they done with that on the F-35? One of the best things about the A-10 was it could fly low and slow.
Do you know is this was ever proposed? If so, I suspect the "multi-role" proponents have much more influence.
Obviously, since the F-35 is still in early stages of testing, the answer is 'no.' But the sensors are basically the same ones that have successfully been tested on F-15Es and F-16s using LANTIRN and Sniper pods to find and laser designate ground targets.
The A-10 was originally designed for close air support, and to wipe out waves of Soviet Tanks rolling through the Rhine with it's 30mm GAU-8 cannon. It was a day only aircraft in that role.
By Desert Storm, tanks were 'plinked' by F-111Fs using their Pave Tack FLIR/Laser Designator pod and 500 lb laser guided bombs. At night, the hot tanks stood out against the cool sand.
For low and slow, we have the AH-64 Apache. The A-10 is currently in the process of an avionics modernization and wing skin replacement program, so it will be around for several decades to come. But it's role can be performed by the F-35.
How true. We’re just to the point where any size bomb can be a smart bomb. Used to be the various bomb guidance packages were so expensive that putting one on a bomb weighing below 750 lbs was out of the question. Now they’re common and more accurate.