Gates addresses Air University: the sequel

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Secretary of Defense Robert Gates delivered a speech defending his budget recommendations this morning at the Air University at Maxwell AFB. It was the same event where Gates nearly a year ago launched his slash-and-burn campaign against entrenched USAF attitudes, saying that negotiating budgetary priorities with service leaders was like “pulling teeth”.



Since then, Gates has purged the USAF’s top civilian and militaryleaders. Their replacements have publicly backed Gates’ recommendationto halt F-22 production well short of the USAF’s previous “medium-risk”minimum of 243.

Not surprisingly, Gates’ speech this year gave “credit where credit isdue” for the USAF’s sudden priority shift , with combatair patrol orbits of Predators and Reapers rising from 32 to 34 and asecond schoolhouse standing up to prepare more UAV crews for actionfaster.

Gates again justified his recommendation to cancel the replacement forthe USAF’s aging combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopters, sayingthe CSAR-X was not sufficiently “joint”. And he defended his F-22decision. With the F-35, the US military should have about 1,000fifth-generation fighters by around 2020, when China is expected toobtain its first such aircraft, Gates says.

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4 Responses to Gates addresses Air University: the sequel

  1. Royce 15 April, 2009 at 6:11 pm #

    Reading the GAO’s recent report, the Pentagon will have procured 241 F-35s by 2012 with only 62% of flight testing completed. It will have procured more than 500 before all flight testing is completed. That was before the planned acceleration in procurement, too. That sounds like a risky acquisition strategy, doesn’t it? And it’s made worse by using the strategy in such a horribly expensive program. It’s one thing to use a risky strategy in a program with a $500 million price tag. But in one which-even if all goes well- is expected to have a procurement price tag of almost $90 billion through 2015?

  2. Prometheus 16 April, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    Because of this I would argue to push full rate production back at least until 2016 for the AF JSF.
    make a few more testframes and learn and test the hell out of it.
    That ways the first few JSF can maybe even skip early blocks.
    At the same time built 40 Raptors next year(or as many as you can).
    2011 to 2016 make 60 Raptors every year.
    That way you get 487 Raptors.
    Then you can diside if you want to make more until the early 2020ies and maybe start to work on a Strike Raptor.

  3. Dave 16 April, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    The quick build up on the production side is what is supposed to push the cost down rapidly on the F-35- and frankly we need new planes. New legacy fighters are basically not worth it since new ones will cost as much as a F-35.

    More Raptors- I love the Raptor, but even at 136 million bucks per plane-but losing one is painful. In addition to the Edwards crash a couple weeks ago, the 43rd FS essentially totaled one in a collision with a Canadian Hornet also a few days ago- no word on if it’s repairable. We need a plane that can be built in large numbers and that where crashing one (or a few) is not tantamount to a national disaster.

  4. Dave 16 April, 2009 at 8:59 pm #

    Ok, talked to the 325th FW. It was a minor bump- barely at the level of a Class A. The F-22 is fine, minor damage only.

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