Lockheed: F-35A order count includes F-15C/Ds & F-15Es

After I pestered Lockheed Martin Vice President Steve O’Bryan over F-35A numbers at yesterday’s press conference, the company asked their analysts in Fort Worth to provide a complete explanation.

As you may recall, I asked O’Bryan how Lockheed could continue to say that the US Air Force will order 1,763 jets after the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) slashed the number of theater strike wings to 10 or 11. Assuming a standard 72-aircraft wing, that adds up to only 720 to 792 combat-coded jets, far below Lockheed’s official number for the F-35. 

I’ve received an email from Lockheed’s analysts this morning, which I excerpt below.

I assume all the strike wings are F-35. This would meanreplacement of all F-16s, A-10s and F-15Es with F-35. As of now, it isreasonable to assume all the A-10s and F-15Es would reach their life during theUSAF buy of F-35s (~ 2035) with no other tactical strike platform to replacetheir full capability other than F-35.


For air superiority, I’m assuming 2 wings of F-22s and theremaining 4 are F-35s. (In reality, there are only 1 2/3 wing equivalentsF-22s.)


This leads to 14-15 wings of F-35s. The table below useshistoric USAF bottoms-up approach for force structure requirements. As you cansee, with 15 wings, the requirement is over 1,700 F-35s. This is certainly inthe noise of 1,763 when we are talking about aircraft procured 25 years fromnow.


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4 Responses to Lockheed: F-35A order count includes F-15C/Ds & F-15Es

  1. ArkadyRenko 4 February, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    I can’t say that I’m surprised. The USAF has no other fighter plane competitions running nor does, for that matter, the Navy.

    Thus, it is logical for Lockheed to assume that every single fighter role not taken by the F-22 will be given to them.

    Of course, if the airforce is forced to rely upon F-35 for every mission apart from a few F-22, its really only the AF’s fault. They should be starting the replacement for the F-22 competition soon.

    To that end, does anyone know about the planned next generation fighter competitions?

  2. Dave 4 February, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

    In the full article you mentioned that the Mach 1.6 top speed for the F-35 doesn’t really compare to the F-15, but the fact is that operational F-15 don’t ever actually hit 2.5 Mach or even Mach 2 for that matter. Mostly they’re doing around Mach 1.2-1.3… and there are regulations preventing them from exceeding Mach 1.5 so I don’t think maximum Mach is really an issue.

    That being said, I do wonder if LM’s figures are correct. Is the USAF and DOD standing by the 1763 number? I would suspect they’d be the ones to ask if they’re talking that is.

    Allegedly, there might be a F-22 replacement in the works after 2025, but if that happens, if could be sans pilot.

  3. CALC 9 February, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    The assumption that I dont understand is this:

    “it is reasonable to assume all the A-10s and F-15Es would reach their life during the USAF buy of F-35s (~ 2035) with no other tactical strike platform to replace their full capability other than F-35.”

    One thing I think will impact upon JSF numbers significantly in the future will be the procurement of UCAVs which I assume (Im as guilty as they are perhaps) that the air force will have long since begun deploying in a strike role by 2035. Surely that will have a big impact on F-35 numbers. They are already using the procurement of MQ1/9s as one of the reasons they are able to retire those 200+ F-16s, F-15s and A-10s this year.

  4. William C. 14 February, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

    This is quite foolish. Those F-15s should be replaced by F-22s, not F-35s which already have enough roles to fill.

    And the F-15E should be replaced by a new fighter-bomber altogether.

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