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Col. Boyd must be spinning in his grave!

One of my favorite books: https://www.amazon.com/Boyd-Fighter-Pilot-Who-Changed/dp/031...

There's a lot about what's wrong with aircraft procurement in this book and how he fought against it. Idealism and pragmatism still lose to politics and money fifty years later!




Boyd and Pierre Sprey are hacks part of the luddite fighter mafia. If it was up to them the most successful fighter plane of all time (F-15) would have been replaced with cheap f-5 clones without BVR or RADAR capabilities.


I guess that's true to a point, but Boyd was singularly focused on ACM, maybe even obsessed with it. Which is understandable given his background.

I guess it's fortunate that technology continued to advance to the point where the F-16 finally does have improved RADAR and BVR (Block 20 and onward).

But, yeah, they had tunnel vision about the mission.


The "cheap F-5 clone" called the F-20 Tigershark would have been one of the most capable and cost-effective fighters ever, but it offered insufficient opportunity for graft and corruption, so it was killed by Congress. It was also no doubt the last time any manufacturer will ever attempt to develop a significant military aircraft at their own expense.


There's an argument, by Boyd causing the F-15 and F-16 to succeed, he delayed the inevitable rethinking of the procurement process. If not for Boyd, the Air Force would have had perhaps 1 qualified success (F-18 Super Hornet) in the last 50 years of air platform development.


The Air Force doesn't fly the F-18. Boyd was against the F-15, so I'm not sure where you are getting that from.


The F-18 and F-15 prototypes were competing for the same job. F-15 won and MD managed to salvage their investment and sell the YF-17 to the Navy as the F-18.

The F-16 was the card up Boyd's sleeve that nobody saw coming but couldn't argue against it once he put it on the table!


The F/A-18 was never in competition with the F-15 WRT the Air Force. It was mandated by congress for the navy to replace the high cost f-14 with something more reasonable costwise. It's true that the F/A-18 was competing with a navalized version of the F-15 but cost factors and the lack of organic multirole made the navalized version of the F-15 unfeasible.

The F-16 did not conform to what Boyd wanted out of a combat aircraft, execpt for the lightweight part. The F-16 has a RADAR, BVR, and while designed as an air superiority it has exceeded expectations as a multirole platform.


The Navy has a strong preference for two engines (and so would you, if you were flying at sea), so the F-16 was never an option for them, anyway...


No, the F-17 and the F-16 were both part of the LWF (Lightweight Fighter) project. When the F-16 beat out the F-17, the USN decided to pursue the F-17 which became the F-18.


Did the Air Force ever use the f18?


Other Air Forces have used it, Canada and Australia. Germany is thinking of getting some.


No.


It was extremely interesting from a technological point of view (e.g. funny the mentions about "gold plating", if I remember correctly), but at the same time I thought that it was very depressing (his private life). I'm conflicted about that book... .


> There's a lot about what's wrong with aircraft procurement in this book

So for those of us not interested enough to actually go read that book, what is the solution for such insanely expensive military programs?


First, are the programs insanely expensive is a question that needs to be asked. I have no doubt there is waste to cut, but overall, a modern fighter much be complex. A WWI fighter will lose against the more complex fighter every-time, which will lose to the 1950s fighter (The jet engine was just becoming workable at the end of WWII, if the war had gone longer what I'm calling a 1950s fighter would be late WWII). And so on. A modern fighter must have high R&D, and overall we hope to only need a relatively small number of them, which makes it really easy to do division on a per fighter basis and get a really big number.

The incremental cost of a F35 once you have designed it isn't too bad (and it could be made a lot better if it was worth a larger assembly line to make more).




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