We’re not going to work at Ferrari. The US Air Force is considering a new fighter to replace the F-16 below the F-35

We don’t go to work in a Ferrari every day, we go out on Sundays. With this automobile parable, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. recently explained the need to acquire a fourth generation fighter jet to replace the veteran F-16, a role played by the U.S. Air Force should have been taken over by the US Air Force. Lockheed Martin F-35.

The Chief of Staff raised the need to design from scratch a new fighter aircraft with more modest capabilities than the F-35, better suited to the needs of the F-16 and less technically complex. To this end, a study has been started to develop an optimal combination of next generation aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II with other, simpler and more widely available fourth generation aircraft with enhanced capabilities. The general will propose the budget for this study, which is scheduled to begin in fiscal 2023.

Given the possibility of acquiring more of the new generation F-16s raised by the commanders, the general advocates a design from scratch, since the F-16 was born in the 1970s while maintaining its growth capacity. Maximum It is difficult to update certain systems, especially software. For this reason, “an airplane of the fourth and half generations or less than the fifth” is set.

The study, called TacAir, will determine what the Air Force’s needs and the number of devices of each type are, something that the Global Posture Review report does. from Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, both to provide feedback.

With an average 28-year-old fleet of fighter jets, Brown anticipates that there will be risks during the electoral process, but that it is his job to decide which is acceptable and also appreciate his engineering degree and reduce the question to facts Make business decisions. In contrast to the short-term vision, the approach aims to bring down the average age of Air Force aircraft and to find the most suitable aircraft for each mission.

It’s at least a surprising statement, given that the Lockheed Martin F-35 replaced several devices, including the F-16. However, the general believes that it is a device that has been out of service for a long time that has caused some problems such as: B. premature wear of the F135 engines and that it may be “used too often”. In this sense he made the comparison with the sporadic use of a high-performance sports car by saying: “I want to moderate the use of these aircraft, is it our high-end?”

The replacement of the F-16 could finally arrive in 2040, with aircraft that could have been in service for 60 years, but the flaws identified in the F-35, such as the recently analyzed engine, suggest that action must be taken. As the US Air Force has confirmed, the F-135 engine cannot be serviced as quickly as necessary. It also suffers from a problem with the thermal coating of the turbine blades, which shortens its life. As recently published by Defense News, up to 6 percent of the F-35 fleet could be on site by 2022, waiting for a new engine.

The complexity of the software built into the F-35 also makes maintenance difficult. For example, the F-35 has approximately 8 million lines of code in its systems compared to 1 to 2 million for the aircraft that preceded it. This increases the complexity of integrating new systems or identifying the source of problems related to the systems that control the aircraft or its components. (José Mª Navarro García)

Photo: A U.S. Air Force (AF) F-35A

The F-16 remains the workhorse of the US Air Force (AF)

U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. (AF)

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