The U.S. Air Force “is struggling to afford 48 F-35s a year” for the first years of full-rate production a senior Air Force officer told Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
Full rate-production is slated to begin in 2019 and the U.S. Air Force wants to buy 60 planes in 2020, and 80 F-35 per year after that. This year, the Air Force is to receive 28 F-35s, whereas in 2016 the number is slated to increase to 44. By 2038, the service wants to have 1763 F-35 aircraft in service. However, this procurement schedule might not be financially feasible for the Air Force.
F-15s and F-16s will serve longer and will outnumber F-35s and F-22s through the late 2020s.
Boeing is proposing an “F-15 2040C” series of upgrades that would extend the life of the fourth-generation F-15C air superiority fighter to complement the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor. The 2040 version would double to 16 the number of air-to-air missiles the fighter carries, extend its range and improve its lethality and survivability with upgraded electronics.
An F-15 2040C would also extend the fighter’s production line in St. Louis, which with 84 F-15SAs destined for Saudi Arabia has firm orders through 2019. Boeing previously offered a stealthy “Silent Eagle” version for South Korea’s F-X III fighter competition, but that country last year settled on the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II for the requirement.
Boeing would off a package of continuing upgrades. They would incorporate the programmed radar upgrade of F-15C/Ds with the Raytheon APG-63(v)3 active electronically scanned radar and a new electronic warfare suite called EPAWSS, for the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System. A proposed long-range infrared search and track sensor pod would complement the AESA radar. Boeing supplies conformal fuel tanks on the multi-role F-15E Strike Eagle; the 2040C upgrade would add them on the F-15C. The proposed weapons load increase would be accomplished by adding a Boeing-developed “quad pack” carriage system on two weapons stations. A communications and networking pod with advanced datalinks, now being demonstrated under the Air Force’s Talon HATE program, would enable the older F-15 to interact with the Raptor and other platforms.
The new F-15 would complement the F22. the F15 2040C would have more weapons, a long-range sensor that is in a different frequency band than what the F-22 carries, the extended range and the connectivity to the F-22 and other systems—that is a huge increase in capability
There has been interest in the international market for upgraded F16s and revamped A-10s.
Boeing and suppliers including Korea Aerospace Industries are providing replacement wings for the A-10, and have delivered 103 of the 173 shipsets on contract.
A refurbished A-10 might include a new engine, a helmet-mounted cueing system and a targeting pod. There are approximately 200 active A-10s and 60 in long-term storage.
Advanced Super Hornet F18
The US Navy has been evaluating a series of upgrades to the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft designed to increase the range, performance and “stealthy-ness” of the aircraft.
The technological innovations include engine improvements, new electronics, the use of a conformal fuel tank, an enclosed weapons pod and efforts to reduce the radar detectability or “signature” of the aircraft, service officials said.
These upgrades have resulted in newly configured or modified F/A-18s demonstrator flights
SOURCES - Defense Tech, Ainonline, Aviation Week