Closing the Gap: An Analysis of Options for Improving the USAF Fighter Fleet from 2105 to 2035
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE, AIR UNIVERSITY MAXWELL AFB United States
Pagination or Media Count:
The fighter gap refers to a shortage of fighter aircraft inventory or capacity. Due to budget concerns, procurement numbers for 5th generation fighters are falling, and legacy fighters are reaching the end of their service life and retiring. The result is a shortage in both fighter aircraft quantities and in capacity for delivering weapons from fighter platforms. The criteria of lethality and survivability, cost, and the need for 4th and 5th generation capabilities are examined and used as the basis of comparison between 3 alternative solutions provided by the Congressional Budget Office. This examination reveals that potential advantages in range, payload, standoff, and cost make enhanced legacy fighters the most suitable option for closing the fighter gap. Two enhanced legacy fighters, the F-16E and F-15SA, are compared to reveal that the F-15SA provides the most significant increase in capacity and capabilities to the USAF fighter inventory. Finally, this study concludes with the recommendation to purchase 200 enhanced legacy fighters such as the F-15SA.
- Attack and Fighter Aircraft
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies