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USAF plans on retiring hundreds of Aircraft

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Well.. not so reach US allies are waiting for retired F-16. Countries like Bulgaria, Croatia or Romania need planes to replace soviet equipment.

I think all retired F-16 should be offered for these 'forgoten' allies even for free.

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interesting to me theres no date (at least that i saw. that aside its two fold announcement. first is good old budget politics; "we dont have enough money need to retire the old stuff so we can get new".

however, some of the latest proposals are actually decent, like retiring a little over a dozen B-1B and 44 A-10 rather than the whole fleet. the aircraft proposed would be the higher hour birds and maintenence hogs of the fleet.

in the case of the A-10 (still in the process of being rewinged) it would mean 65 new wingsets rather than 109, and a source of other spares for the remaining fleet of around 210. https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/02/10/bye-bye-brrrrt-air-force-wants-retire-44-10-warthogs.html

remains to see how the politics of this plays out tho. Congress is known for actions like not allowing retirement of the KC-135E fleet, at a time when they were sitting so long they had to be fired up and moved to keep the tires from going flat.

the second youngest service (feels wierd to say that) does like shiny new things, but it really does need to let go of some of the old however much enthusiasts or Congress cry no. older airframes do get hard to pay for too, after a while.

except BUFFs. ther will be a B-52 flyover when the USS Enterprise is launched:lol:

 

heres is another version of the same news, with a little more detail

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/02/10/air-force-send-more-100-planes-boneyard-it-invests-future-fighters.html

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If we're being honest, this is probably a good thing.  A lot of those airframes are older than the pilots flying them.  Lots of them (like the Bone) are getting next to impossible to maintain because of their increasing age.  Most of them likely couldn't operate in a modern conventional battlespace without massive electronic jamming support (I'm looking at you, F-15C).   Some of them have systems that are more than two decades old (the Block 25 Vipers).

We could easily hand off the -16s (and even the -15s) to client states that wanted something on the cheap.  The US military badly needs to modernize, if for no other reason than the safety of the pilots operating those aircraft.  Even the F-22A is getting to be a little old.  I'm very glad to see we've invested in some new-build Strike Eagles, probably the most versatile platform since the F-4 Phantom II.  I'm also very encouraged by the progress of the Raider; Northrop seems to be moving development along at a brisk pace.

We've needed new gear for a while, and we are going on two decades of sustained combat use of so many systems, they are now breaking from fatigue.  Everyone was saddened by the retirement of the Tomcat; the way that it happened was worse than the realization that it needed to be retired.  I think the one that will affect me more will be the last flight of the F-16.  I grew up a stone's throw from the fence around Carswell AFB and as a kid, I watched hundreds of new-build -16s take off for customers and even more being flown in for maintenance.  They were just a symbol of America for me.  When they're finally retired, it will be because we squeezed every last dime we could out of them.

Edited by PFunk
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I'm just saying old isn't always obsolete/useless and new isn't always improved/better. I don't understand why some are so eager to toss away systems that have proven themselves reliable over the years, in favor of systems that have yet to do anything other than look pretty in recruiting videos. When talking about money spent maintaining the old ones ... what about the money spent on the new ones? F-35 program for instance. There's all kinds of drama surrounding that plane. Whether you're for or against really doesn't matter honestly because just about every aircraft has went through similar drama. However just about every other aircraft has eventually proven itself to be reliable. I'd like to hang on to what works until the new aircraft have time to prove themselves as reliable and adapt to their situation. Having shiny new equipment is nice and looks good but it won't mean a thing if they can't deliver.

Not modernizing can have its advantages too. People gripe about the nuclear program being soooo oooooold and in need of upgrades and yet while hospitals are getting hacked, websites with personal data are getting hacked, credit card information getting hacked, you haven't heard of silos getting hacked...because the systems are too flipping old. I wouldn't trust a corporation today to make any upgrades to that program. We can barely get Windows 10 to work right and people want new systems for our nukes? Nah. Like my grandpa says "if ain't broke don't fix it".

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Oh, sure.  I argue that governments should definitely be more frugal in their expenditures.  I think any citizen of any government would probably appreciate public employees being good stewards of our money.  And, where there is still use to be found in something, it ought to be used until something more efficient can be found.  I'm thinking of the A-10 in that regard as well; it does a job well and there's nothing else quite like it.  What I meant is that when we make the decision to retain equipment of any kind, that decision shouldn't be made out of nostalgia.

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The bone yard here in town isn't a grave, that's always a big misunderstanding. The bone yard houses and stores thousands of aircraft most of which are kept in a state that putting them back into service can happen over night. The crews that put these aircraft into storage are pros, they cover, protect, and have systems in place to protect an aircraft down to the smallest items you can think of. They take the entire inventory into consideration when planning the end stages of an aircraft and even that's not the end of these old gals. Once they deem an aircraft beyond storage viability they part it out and use those parts to bring other aircraft back into stored ready status. The parts are also used to supply museums with parts and air frames that they in turn restore. Even as an aircraft doesn't resemble an aircraft much they take those pieces and sell them to the many privately owned aircraft salvage yards around here. The US Government are pros at decommissioning and salvaging these aircraft and it is a necessary stage of their life. The guys at the boneyard do it with the grace and poise you'd expect from those caring for these tough but aged wings. The running joke down on the farm is when the tour guys roll past a multi acre section of land that's vacant and they tell the folks that's where they house all the stealth aircraft. The tour guys have to get a chuckle out of every photo that's taken. This last phase of duty isn't the end it's a reunion of the toughest and something to be damn proud of.

 

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    • By MigBuster

       
      Ahh that old familiar tale you say - of course, in the late 1960s the F-4 Phantom II finally had a gun installed, which meant that everything was better, magical unicorns danced around the sky and the Vietnamese MiGs would fall from the sky in droves!
      Okay so that didn’t quite happen….......what did?  
       
       
      Note - These articles are a compacted summary of a rather massive topic and will discuss the F-4 and Guns in Vietnam mostly ignoring missiles. Vietnam will be used instead of SEA. And USN includes the US Marines for simplicity.
       
       
      Very different F-4s and Air Forces (USAF v USN)
      Firstly, with different equipment, ideas and ways of doing things the United States pretty much had different Air Forces in the US Navy (USN) and the US Air Force (USAF), so it is important to draw a big red line between them with a quick summary:
       
      US Navy F-4 Versions in Vietnam
      F-4B (F4H-1) – Second F-4 version but first major production version of the F-4. F-4J - Improved F-4B Major Differences compared to the USAF
      Air to Air Refueling with Drogue and Basket Use of AIM-9B/D/G/H versions of Sidewinder only as Short Range Missile. Never fitted Guns, not even pods (outside of a brief trial with the GAU-4) Internal ECM equipment. Different Radars (AN/APQ-72, -59 & AWG-10 Pulse Doppler) Had no flight controls in the back seat In 1972 preferred used of AIM-9G/H Sidewinder over AIM-7E-2 Sparrow Used more flexible Loose Deuce A-A formation tactics Carrier and land based (Marines)
      USN F-4J refueling drogue and chute style (USN)
       
       
      USAF F-4 Versions in Vietnam
      F-4C (F-110A) – Based on the F-4B with USAF changes. F-4D – Improved F-4C. F-4E – This is the (only) F-4 with the internal Gun. Major Differences compared to the US Navy
      Air to Air Refueling with Boom Used AIM-9B/E/J versions of Sidewinder Used AIM-4D Falcon for periods over the AIM-9 on F-4D/E External Podded ECM equipment Different Radars (AN/APQ-100, -109 & -120 ) Use of Gun Pods (SUU-16 & SUU-23) Had some flight controls in the back seat In 1972 preferred use of AIM-7E-2 Sparrow over AIM-9 / AIM-4 Insisted on sticking to the obsolete / useless fluid four (Welded Wing) A-A formation tactics right to the end.
      USAF F-4 nears the boom of a KC-135 in 1967 (USAF)
       
      Why no gun on the F-4 to start with?
      On the 18th September 1947 the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) became the USAF and with the limited budget constraints after WWII, Strategic Air Command (SAC) was seen as security priority and was thus given the major funding over the Tactical Air Forces (TAF).
      SAC culture dominated the USAF in the early years along with its doctrine of strategic nuclear bombing with massive manned bombers. Tactical Fighters (F-100/F-101 etc) under this emphasis on SAC now had two roles:
      Defend against enemy bombers as interceptors. (Air Defence Command / ADC) Low level delivery of tactical Nukes. (Tactical Air Forces / TAF)  Apparently, Korea never happened because by the late 1950s bombing a target in a fighter within 750ft was more then good enough (with a Nuclear weapon) so not only conventional Air to Air training went out the window but also conventional bombing!
      One Air Force general noted about this period, General (Curtiss) LeMay had deliberately loaded the Air Staff with bomber guys, who were not well acquainted with things like air superiority or air-to-air combat, and who wanted to destroy enemy aircraft on their airfields. In 1957, LeMay actually tried to eliminate the TAF, but the possibility of the Army developing its tactical air support arm overrode this idea, and later that year LeMay reluctantly gave the TAF more funds to keep its mission from being turned over to the Army.

      Who needs fighters anyway? - the B-36 Peacemaker takes its toddler son for a walk in 1948 (USAF)
       
      Some of this thinking was perhaps driving the US Navy with their F4 program in the 1950s. The USN had a requirement to intercept Soviet bombers attacking the fleet above 50,000ft out of the range of gun armed fighters and thus from 1956 the AIM-7 Sparrow III was to be the primary weapon with a gun as secondary. By 1957 however the gun was deleted from the design because the new AIM-9 Sidewinder was to be the secondary weapon.
      The USAF took on the F-4 as part of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s drive to get the services to use standard equipment with commonality. He was also interested in the conventional side of things and saw both the A-G potential as well as the A-A potential and thus the USAF received the F-4C (originally designated F-110A).
      (Note: yes this was potentially one of the few things McNamara did that wasn’t a complete catastrophe!)
      Of course, the F-4 wasn’t the only aircraft of its time without an internal gun (another reason seen given is that pilots would never have closed to gun range to take down a bomber carrying Nukes.)
      Some other Interceptors of the era born with no internal Gun:
      F-102 Delta Dagger F-106 Delta Dart (Some later got a gun under project Six Shooter from around 1969) Su-9/11 Fishpot Tu-128 Fiddler Su-15 Flagon MiG-25 Foxbat Some Interceptors that had the gun removed:
      Lightning Fmk3 CF-104 Starfighter (Early) A gun was later incorporated MiG-17PFU Fresco MiG-19PM Farmer MiG-21PF/PFV/PFS/PFM/FL  (PFV and PFM used by the VPAF in Vietnam along with the gun armed F-13 and MF)
       F-102A Delta Dagger interceptors (USAF)
       
       
      Getting a gun on the F-4E
      McDonnell first proposed an internal gun for the F-4 in 1961 however it wasn’t until a potential limited war in Vietnam looked likely in 1963 that this was taken more seriously by the military for Ground Attack / strafing. By 1965 combat experience determined that a gun was a requirement and it was trialed in the F-4, and thus the F-4E was born with a nose job and new APQ-120 Radar:
       

      This shows the 22 modules (Line Replaceable Units / LRUs) required for the APQ-120 radar
       
      Adding the gun solved all the problems yes?
      The original gun muzzle caused a few problems. Firstly gas ingestion into the engine inlets caused engine flameouts and secondly it made a loud whistling noise that apparently notified the enemy troops (and their Dogs presumably ) long before the F-4 got there. The muzzle had to be redesigned and the later F-4Es have a longer gun muzzle under the nose.
      Also not shown in the diagram above, the gun assembly and ammo drum took up a lot of space in the nose and the dish/antenna size was reduced.
      The Westinghouse APQ-120 was an early ‘Solid State’ radar (derived from the APQ-109) and being Solid State must have helped in reducing the obvious vibration issue when you have a massive Gatling gun sitting next to 1960s electronics! Despite this it still exceeded the reliability requirements and was similar in that regards to the F-4D radar that had no gun in the nose.
      Ex F-4 flyer Walt BJ stated that the APQ-120 in the F-4E had about 20-25% less range over the APQ-109 in the F-4D.
       
      Didn’t the F-4E just wipe the floor now it had a gun?
      During Operation Linebacker I & II (1972/73):
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      Considering the extra effort required for guns in skill, fuel, risk of collision, and making themselves more vulnerable, a missile would be the priority weapon regardless of the USAF training issues.
       
      What about the gun pods?
      Stop gap measures meant some squads using the 20mm SUU-16 and SUU-23 Gatling gun pods on the F-4C and D respectively – however despite some success these were somewhat inaccurate and the extra drag had a noticeable effect on range.

      Looking happy to be here - SUU-23 Gun pod on the center line station of an F-4 (Clive Camm)
       
      Some championed the Gun pod such as Korean war ace Col Frederik “Boots” Blesse after it became a useful strafing tool for South Vietnam sorties.
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      The gun pod wasn’t so much a speed penalty as an object of increased drag and fuel consumption. But that wasn’t my objection to the gun pod, I refused to carry it for 3 basic reasons;
      It took the place of five or six 750 lb bombs. Only my older and more experienced fighter pilots had ever been trained in aerial gunnery, to say nothing of air-to-air fighting. There were perhaps a dozen of them in the 8th TFW. I had no intention of giving any of my young pilots the temptation to go charging off to engage MiG-17s with a gun. They would have been eaten alive. Instead they fought MiGs the way I taught them and did so with notable success. The US Navy briefly trialed the 20mm MK4 (GAU-4) Gatling gun pod but this was determined to be useless in operation with technical difficulties and also meant the preferred configuration of center line drop tank only could not be carried.

      The not so successful MK4 (GAU-4) gun pod at China Lake (Dave Woolsey)
       
      Did the Navy not want an internal or any gun?
      For the primary purpose of fleet air defense, ‘missiles only’ it seems was deemed adequate. When in combat over Vietnam some Navy pilots wanted it and others didn’t. The gun pod was not persevered with and even an offer of free SUU-16/23 pods from the USAF was turned down on one occasion.
      We can deduce that if you reshaped the F-4J nose like the F-4E then you also have to reduce the radar dish size and forfeit range which might not be the best idea regarding fleet defense.
      Simply plonking in the APQ-120 with less range and no useful lookdown/shootdown capability was probably not going to win USN favour. Even spending the money on a modified APG-59/AWG-10 still gets you reduced range at the end of it.
      The APG-59/AWG-10 in the F-4J had some good lookdown techniques (for its time) and was considered superior. However even without the gun the F-4B/J Phantom avionics suffered from heavy carrier landings:
      I had a USN F4J pilot in my back seat one night gunship escort mission (can't for the life of me remember why) and he marvelled at the radar pickup. I asked him why he thought it was so good when he was flying the J model. He told me after about 4 'standard' carrier landings the radar wasn't so hot anymore. (Walt BJ)
       
       
      So, what did the Pilots say about Guns, Training, and Back Seat Drivers
      During the Vietnam conflict a Secret project (Red Baron) took place which compiled every A-A engagement fought. As part of that the aircrews were interviewed where available, giving quite a mixed view.
      3 April 1965 F-4B USN front seat pilot (with 1000 hours)
      There is a need for a close in weapon as a backup on any mission……………….Guns would also be useful as an air-ground weapon (stopping a truck convoy, for example)
      10 July 1965 USAF F-4C front seat pilot
      Gun not necessary; it will get people into trouble. Would like capability to fire all missiles on the F-4 with Centreline Tank on. Less minimum range for missiles instead of guns…….Because lack of ACT at time of event, did not know how to manoeuvre the F-4 as well as he could later after some experience.
      6 Oct 1965 USN F-4B front seat pilot
      Fighter needs guns or short range missile……………..Turning and acceleration rate of MiG-17 was impressive. The MiG leader was aggressive and a good fighter pilot.
      23 April 1966 USAF F-4C front seat pilot
      Improve the performance of the AAM and the gun will not be needed…………Training safety restrictions severely limited air-combat-tactics training prior to deployment to the combat area.
      23 April 1966 USAF F-4C front seat pilot
      The need for a F-4 gun is overstated, although it would be of value if it could be obtained without hurting current radar and other system performance. If you are in a position to fire guns, you have made some mistake. Why after a mistake would a gun solve all problems. Also having a gun would require proficiency at firing, extra training etc. Have enough problems staying proficient in current systems. If the F-4 had guns, we would have lost a lot more, since once a gun dual starts the F-4 is at a disadvantage against the MiG.
      23 April 1966 USAF F-4C front seat pilot
      Felt that he had very poor air-combat-tactics background. Prior background was bomber and other multi-engine. Transition to F-4 oriented toward upgrading a qualified fighter pilot rather than training a pilot with no fighter background.
      25 April 1966 USAF F-4C back seat pilot
      Gun is not particularly desirable, if the performance of the aircraft is degraded by an external installation. Also, one might make the mistake of getting into a turning battle if a gun was available
      25 April 1966 USAF F-4C back seat pilot
      Capability of the F-4 is being wasted by having a pilot in the back seat. The pilot is not adequately trained as a radar observer. Need a radar expert in the back seat. The pilot back seaters main goal is to be upgraded to the front seat rather than master the radar.
      26 April 1966 USAF F-4C front pilot
      It is a fallacy to say that you can bring the F-4C home and land it solely from the back seat. You’ve got to blow the gear down and then there is no antiskid system; there is no drag chute handle; there is no fuel gauges or switches; you may be limited to using internal fuel; you can’t dump fuel or jettison tanks.
      A gun would be nice in an F-4C as long as it was clearly understood it was only a weapon of last resort. Soviet fighters are more capable than US aircraft inside gun range.
      29 April 1966 USAF F-4C back seat pilot
      It was not necessary to have a pilot in the back seat of the F-4 except during night A-G missions when a pilot may more capably advise the aircraft commander. Actually, a radar officer would be more interested in the back-seat operation than a pilot would be.
      29 April 1966 USAF F-4C front seat pilot
      It would be undesirable and possibly fatal for an F-4 to use a gun in fighting with a MiG because the MiG is built to fight with guns and the F-4 is not.
      30 April 1966 USAF F-4C front seat pilot
      Training was not really adequate for this engagement, didn’t know what the back should do in a hassle such as this.
      14 June 1966 USN front seat pilot
      Guns would be most useful for the ResCAP role but not particularly valuable in the air to air role.
       

      An F-4B from VF-111 Sundowners giving it some - just because (USN)
       
      The F-4 Phantom II Dogfighter?
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      In 1966 the US Navy flew “Project Plan” flying the F-4B against a series of fighters to determine how good it was in an Air Superiority role. It concluded that contrary to what F-4 pilots thought the F-4 was the best air to air fighter in the world (including the F-8), if the F-4 stayed fast.
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      In Part 2 we look at the very different training aspects of the USN/USAF/VPAF, the F-105 / F-8  paradox and the myth / legend of Colonel Tomb.
       
       
       
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