DoD’s 30-Year Aviation Plan

Here you have it, the Pentagon’s annual 30-year aviation plan.

Click through the jump to read all about how the Defense Department plans on buying two new VC-25 presidential transports (Air Force One) by the end of this decade, kicking off an effort to replace the ancient T-38 Talon around 2018, new bombers and a fleet of more than 600 UAVs by 2022. Most interestingly, the plan lists an effort to develop a 6th-generation fighter, dubbed F-X, to replace the Air Force’s F-22 Raptors and another 6th-gen jet called F/A-XX that’s slated to replace the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. (H/t to Marcus for pointing this out.)

All in all the document shows that the Pentagon’s aviation fleet will grow slightly from 14,340 aircraft today to 14,415 by 2022, with aviation spending totaling about $770 billion during that time.

DoD Aviation Plan

Via Bloomberg.

  • Matt

    OoooO…More tax payer money given wasted…..

    • Michael

      Geez, man.

    • Jacob

      Well we do need to have _a_ military. Whether a specific part of the defense budget constitutes a waste of taxpayer money involves getting into specifics.

      • Cranky Observer

        Question being, will we raise taxes to pay for it? Or just continue pretending that military spending doesn’t have to be paid for?


  • Rohan

    Awesome pic… is sooo cool. Can anyone please help me in getting knowing who is the engineer of this plane design !!!

    Please Please Please !!!

    • LKitty

      Probably some 3D artist. I doubt its an actual design. =)

      • Mikaela

        Nope. It actually says… Boeing.

        • blight_

          It’s concept art. No wind tunnel testing, etc included.

        • A. Nonymous

          Looks like it came out of St. Louis. And they apparently still haven’t learned the lesson from the JSF downselect and X-36 program that nobody wants to buy a manned aircraft with no yaw stability after an engine failure…

        • archangel

          this cannot be a real design. you cannot build a fighter without rudders for yaw stability, as you sacrifice lots of manuverability if you do. you can use the engines for jaw control, but this will only work for turning big circles, not snapping barrel rolls in a dogfight. yeah, i doubt its a real design.

  • Sgt_Buffy

    So, they are working on developing a 6th gen aircraft. Isn’t that kind of like selling us 2013 model cars in 2012?

    • EJ257

      Try model year 2030 cars in 2012.

      Considering the whole ATF thing (you know F-22 and F-23) was started back in the early 1990s and it took us how long to finally field a fleet of 187 aircraft? If we follow the same time frame by the time we get a 6th gen fighter it will be the 2030s.

    • Riceball

      Actually, that’s standard practice in the auto industry, the model year is almost a year ahead of the actual calendar year. But EJ257’s example is dead on as is his explanation, it takes a while to design a new plane, esp. now a days, Right now the Air Force is probably working on what they want and what qualifies as a 6th generation fighter. Then the aerospace companies have to work on designs, then build prototypes, then the Air Force will hold a flyoff to see which one they like best, and then the winner goes into further development before eventually going into full production.

      • Maxtrue

        In 2002 the Air Force plan was to modify the F-22 and build an FN-22 which is not unlike the rendering above. Pretty close. It was due out with proper funding by 2005. Of course Bush scraped that idea. The FN-22 was to have a fuselage about ten feet longer and delta wings for fuel which would expand the FN-22 range from about 900 miles to 2200 miles. It was to have longer payload bays and was about .2 Mach slower but no vertical tails meant perhaps greater stealth.

        The Chinese obviously bought into the F-22 / FN-22 strategy based on the logic proposed by US planner back in 2002 and even a decade before that. Thus I find this all quite amusing. Now Being is touting an FN-22 design? And the logic of this after closing the production line at 187 not ready for prime time Raptors and dissing the FN-22 program only to float a new fighter bomber is hilarious.

        I would think North Korea, Iran, Syria, Pakistan and other worries involve advanced air defense systems if action is needed. We see a growing Chinese capability with our F-22s out of range. In reading Defense Tech for years I get the feeling our strategy, economics of procurement and honesty is sorely lacking from government and the DOD.

        And the idea we can’t down a North Korean missile clandestinely is also disturbing. Take one of those B-2s. Stick the air borne laser system into it and at least have the capacity to down these kind of singular launches. We all know what the Iranians and North Koreans are up to.

        • blight_

          “Take one of those B-2s. Stick the air borne laser system into it”

          • fromage

            Blight: If I could high-five you over the internet, I would.

  • Mastro

    Well they’d better start work on a cheaper F35 replacement- now that it looks like that will cost $200 million each plus insane maintenance costs.

  • D’Orville

    Wait a second, F/A-XX? Wasn’t that the F-35 supposed to supplant the F/A-18s?

    • Mikaela

      The F-35 just replace the other much older F-18s. The Super Hornets with the latest upgrades will still be used well into the 2020s.

  • Lance

    Looks like Boeing stole the fake plane from the movie STEALTH LOL. Over all just a design studies can be done there is NO money to replace the F-22s and F-15s with another new plane which may or may not be a step ahead. The USAF is getting ahead of itself thinking somehow that budgets cuts will be overturn and the Sequestration will be prevented. I dont see either happening and so I think General Schwartz will have a rude awaking this coming January. Over good ideas yes. But the fiscal situation makes this impossible.

    • DGR

      The current situation makes it impossible, but what is to keep us from getting stuff drawn up? The Air Force lost its drive from back in the days of the cold war where we were cutting edge in every aspect of aerospace development. They are trying to regain that cutting edge factor, and after the lessons of the F-35 program, I think its high time we get this worked out. To me this plan lays out a game plan, now its up to the services to make it happen.

      Dont forget this is a very general plan with little to no detail. Heck, we dont even know what 6th gen fighter capabilities look like on paper yet. But thats all besides the point, the AF has lost a lot of forward thinking minds and its trying to regain a lot of lost ground. Im to young to actually remember them, but I know historically the AF has had no problem pushing out state of the art aircraft (of the day) in mind blowing time tables. The recent programs just highlight that we need to regain that brilliance we apperently lost somewhere along the way. So from how im looking at it, this is less of a actual requirement and more of a statement on where they want to be in the future.

      • Zak

        Some of what you say is true but don’t forget that for a while we were well behind the Russian in aircraft and in our space programs. When we put our efforts into beating them we won but until we made it a focus. The Chinese obviously have every intention of challenging our lead in those areas so the question is whether or not we cede the military upper hand to them. Given their track record on human rights we have every reason not to trust them of give them the advantage.

  • Mark

    Ok finished reading it and so I have this comment, “your photo was the most exciting part.”

  • asdf

    why are the intake nozzles on every other aircraft (including stealthy) on the bottom or sides, but on top here?
    i know that isn’t an optimal place for it on a fighter, but why?

    • Michael

      Probably to hide the heat signature of the intakes from the peering eye of onlooking radars. :) I agree, I don’t think intakes situated on the top of a fighter aircraft are a good idea. It seems like it would cut into the flight performance. All in all, this concept makes me want to tell Boeing to “keep trying”, but, trying new things is good for the knowledge base of this great country.

    • A. nonymous

      Why are the intake nozzles on most non-stealthy aircraft on the bottom or sides, but on top here?

      Fixed it for you. :)

      Putting nacelles and intakes under the wing or fuselage can generate favorable interference (i.e. lift) and perform better at high angles of attack, but are more likely to ingest FOD. Underwing intakes are also more likely to return a radar signature to a ground-based radar installation. Overwing (or over-fuselage) intakes are the opposite. Most commercial aircraft are primarily concerned with fuel economy (low drag), so they are located beneath the wings. Stealth aircraft are concerned about minimizing radar signature, so they almost exclusively (at least until the advent of the caret inlet) utilize overwing intakes.

    • Tom

      Every other aircraft … besides the B-2 and F-117 you mean, which is probably a good indication that there are good reasons to mount it on top for stealthiness.

    • Joe

      In a high performance fighter aircraft having intakes on the top makes absolutley no sense. aircraft like this often operate at high angles of attack. having an intake on the top of the fuselage would put it in the wake of the fuselage at high angle of attack. While stealth and reduced FOD ingestion ( including people on a flight deck) are significant things to be gained, it will not happen at the cost of having your engines get enough air in a high angle of attack maneuver. Additionally i would state the biggest surprise in the design is the absence of a vertical tail… doesnt seem like a fighter design at all. My guess is the image is a ‘techy’, ‘futuristic’ looking plane in order to get politicians to think we are going to make airplanes out of the movie Stealth.

  • Roland

    If we have this tech and money already why not roll it in for mass production.

    • fromage

      Because we don’t have either already, at least with the minimum fidelity required to build it. Powerpoint engineering =/= actual engineering.

  • What is 6th gen? What attributes seperate a 6th generation fighter from a 5th?

    • DGR

      That is what these plans help decide. We dont know yet, but im guessing 3-D thrust vectoring will be a big one. But to me the biggest will most likely be new radar system that can detect current gen stealth aircraft with an accompanying missle suite. Or who knows, maybe we will see an unmanned plane that can take high sustained Gs allowing manuverability at greater speeds. At this point its being talked about in the think tanks as they figure out what the 5th gen planes cant do, and what we can realistically expect a 6th gen to do. But I really hope they dont skip 5.5 gens, a F-22 Super Raptor would be nice to see.

    • Roland

      It means it can fly faster than 5th gen.

    • Mastro

      A trillion $$$$

    • Mark

      I remember an article that covered this in a flamboyant way which spawned a lot of Star Trek jokes as a result. They were very funny.

  • F-X is intended to replace the F-15s that were not replaced by F-22s, these F-15s will now be upgraded to serve to about 2025.

  • Rob

    Manned flight is endangered species. Unmanned planes are cheaper because pilots (including training, healthcare, etc) adds to cost plane. I’m all for manned flight, its sounds like its major struggle in halls of Congress. Anyways, costs developing them seems to kill the design before it actually gets produced. I’ll be amazed that Air Force still thinks a F-35 like fighter can replace the A-10 after all those years of the Thunderbolt II proving itself over the years.

    • Maxtrue

      Manned fighter bombers can do more than what unmanned ones can for some time to come. Speed will increase in unmanned craft, but the tactics needed in a hostile environment requires manned air craft.

      Yes, the F-35 cannot do what the A-10 can do.

      • Tom

        And the A-10 can’t do what the F-35 can do … so we’ve proven they’re different aircraft.

        • Maxtrue

          Yes, but I’m not suggesting the A-19 do what is wasn’t built to do. The DOD is suggesting the F-35 do what it can’t.

          • Chaostician

            Correct. Far from being a replacement for the A-10, F-35 will result in a downgrade in close air support capability. Not a good thing for joint warfighting, not a good thing for the country.

    • Roland

      That maybe but on the other hand good choices should be manned and unmanned capable per unit. What if the enemy have universal remote?

    • An aircraft needs to be flown whether it’s manned or unmanned, you can’t store a plane like you store a main battle tank, it wouldn’t remain airworthy if you did. So the costs involved wouldn’t be much less. Of course you might need fewer flight hours with an unmanned aircraft, but then you could also reduce flight hours with manned planes by increasing use of flight simulators, Norway intends to reduce flight hours this way to 175 per year per F-35.

  • Chuck

    I wouldn’t say “6th-generation fighter, dubbed F-X, to replace the Air Force’s F-22 Raptors”, I would say “”6th-generation fighter, dubbed F-X, to replace the Air Force’s, Navy and Marines F-35”

  • PolicyWonk

    From reading this, it is clear that The Fighter Mafia is still in control – the projected balances of airframes to tasks do not seem to reflect ‘practicality’. Maybe its time for the USAF to be re-integrated with the Army. The C-27’s should be given to the Army (’cause the Army likes them and the AF does not), and the transport fleet should probably not be reduced given the Pacific leaning strategy put forward (meaning – more capacity is better than less). And of course they’re still trying to kill the A-10, despite its overwhelming success and the fear it imposes on the enemy.

    • Dave

      A few years back I had the good fortune to speak with a couple of Marine CAS Cobras at the JSOH at Andrews AFB a few years back. And I asked them about their mission and what they thought of the AF A-10 Thunderbolt/Warthog. Did they get excited or what. They indicated that if there was a way to redesign the A-10 to have folding wings, stiffen its landing gear and equip with an arresting hook Marine CAS would love to have it. Since the AF is still fighting the cold war and is run by the fighter and bomber Mafia and they have so little regard for the wonderfully effective A-10 why not do some re-engineering and give the Thunderbolt to the Marines?

      • Chaostician

        What’s stopping the Marines from developing a fixed wing CAS aircraft in accordance with your design approach? ans – DoD (including the USMC) “all in” commitment to the F-35.

        • Riceball

          One word, budget. The Marine Corps simply doesn’t have the budget to develop a brand new fixed winged aircraft on its own like the Air Force and Navy does. When was the last time the Corps developed an aircraft completely on its own with no help from another branch of service or was an evolution of an existing aircraft?

          • Chaostician

            budget… or mismanagement of thereof?? Instead of screwing up programs and wasting billions in cost overruns on V-22 and EFV, the USMC could have developed realistic material solutions to meet its needs. Long drawn out development programs are quagmires – better to implement competetive prototyping and acquisition of non-developmental items – with minimal modification to meet mission requirements.

          • tiger

            Despite your dreams of pet projects we still have a $17 trillion dollar debt. A nation that has been through 10 years of war. And a Potus pushing butter over guns. So be happy they are better off than the USCG with 40 year old cutters. As to your other question? Never heared of the AV-8B Harrier? Or V-22 Osprey? Those were Marine Air projects.

          • Chaostician

            you lost me.. I have heard of V-22 Osprey. I posted about it right before you did….

  • Tribulationtime

    I glance quickly but Navy will be operating F/A-18 and AV-8B to 2030!!! 60 years main design of aircraft!!!. Sorry I dont belive that decepcion tactics sure.

  • Ben

    Seriously. The B-2’s big, but it’s no 747. You think it can power a laser capable of downing an ICBM? And Imagine that huge swivel mount focusing lens sticking out the top! You’d utterly destroy the stealth of a billion dollar bomber. Brilliance.

    • Maxtrue

      Sticking out of the bottom; the turret isn’t that big and I think a decade is a rather long time to shrink some of the components don’t you think?

      But then its better we not talk about such things…

  • Morty

    Isn’t 6th gen. scram jets

  • Cellarman

    Silly money making millions for arms manufacturers, as ever, the only real winners in warfare.