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Discussion in 'Air Force & Aviation' started by Todjaeger, Mar 12, 2007.
See my reply above. It applies to leasing as well.
With regards to "long range" aircraft and their purchase why not use the Boeing concept Loyal Wingman
Boeing unveils unmanned combat jet developed in Australia
I appreciate this is a fighter/escort but could such a craft be upsized to carry heavier ordinance for an anti shipping role
Who's going to pay for it?
This is the number two question that every post above simply ignores - how is this going to be paid for.
The IIP is full. Now, as discussed in the Australian today and by MINDEF at theSeapower Conference, there are plans to revisit and update it. But, as MINDEF highlights, it's not just platforms. And it's not more of the same. Even without changing the DWP16 guidance, why would we invest in a crewed heavy bomber? Especially B-1s?
This might get moved into the ADF General thread - but when you consider the list that MINDEF talks about, as well as what our (and allied) think tanks are looking at, why would we shift IIP funding from what we have now to buy....what we have now? If we are going to shift money in the IIP into things to match the more rapidly changing strategic situation then it's pointless to purchase this stuff. The exception is, possibly, Loyal Wingman - although that's a sketch on a piece of paper and a scale model. It doesn't fly, it hasn't been tested and it isn't likely for a couple of years at least. So in one way, just upsizing it is easy (it's just a paper design). But this introduces scope creep, will cost more and may not work for its original purpose. Which comes back to - how will we pay?
For things to end up with a kangaroo on the side, they need to be feasible in terms of strategy and finance. Heavy bombers in any guise are neither. Not even close. Uncrewed options and long-range strike probably are (noting the former will be harder than the latter), but even then there probably needs to be dual use.
Who,s going to pay for it ? as with everything the taxpayer , but of course as with any project the needs and risks are assessed , usually if funding is placed into the Loyal wingman program for development similar craft may benefit from this research ,not forgetting that the R.A.A.F already operates the MQ-4C Triton from Edinborough on long range missions ,what it will come back to of course in spending , is what are the prioritities to meet in aquisition and capabilities
If you are to believe Boeing Australia the first prototypes of Loyal Wingman will be next year.
While I wouldn't underestimate the complexity of this program I wouldn't overestimate it either. From what I have gleaned we aren't talking about a super fighter here. We are talking about cheap, attritable aircraft. I don't imagine they would be too difficult to fit into the RAAF budget for the simple reason that they would have to be cheap to be even considered in the first place.
The taxpayer does not have an unlimited pot of gold and you should know that.
@seaspear You have been on here long enough to know the rules and protocols of this forum. Your reply is facetious and you are sailing into very dangerous waters. What you suggest is fantasy land at the present point in time so there had better be a marked improvement in the quality of your posts, or your future on here will be short indeed.
My reply was not meant to be construed as flippant to this topic or your question ,I dont claim to know what is possible with the future Loyal Wingman project certainly information released on Plan Jericho suggests augmented intelligence will be looked at
Plan Jericho - At the Edge | Royal Australian Air Force
Frontline Tech: What Can A 'Loyal Wingman' Drone Offer the RAF?
One thing which has come to mind, and this might also be something which should be a Sticky in various categories, is the real/true total cost to raise, train and sustain capabilities, and the impact on a force structure and force structure planning by suggesting a change in kit, or introducing new kit, or even 'just' increasing numbers of existing kit already in service.
Managing a force structure is a complicated business, because there are so many different components which are interdependent.
For example, if additional P-8A Poseidon's are ordered for the RAAF, then in addition to the RAAF needing to have additional air crews sufficient to permit the extra aircraft to be used operationally, the RAAF would also need additional ground support/crews to maintain the extra aircraft, there would also likely need to be more hangar space to house the extra Poseidon's, and the spare/replacement parts stocks would likely need to be increased at least a little. All of these things would require extra funding, above and beyond whatever the flyaway costs for the Poseidon's were, and some of these things would also require additional time as aircraft commanders take time to develop, as do skilled station operators for radar, sonar/sonobuoys, etc.
It does seem as though people often lose sight of the 'extras' which are also required to actually get capabilities from various bits of kit.
I follow Project Jericho because I believe it to be aspirational and leading edge. To me it is the future for many savvy air forces and I believe that medium and smaller air forces will be quicker to adapt than large air forces. Whilst the RAAF is quick to adapt and adopt, it is not going to rush where angels fear to tread and what you suggest is exactly that. There are too many ethical and legal questions that have to be addressed before AI and weapons systems can be combined and let loose autonomously.
@seaspear Nothing has changed. It is still fantasy land. Warning still stands.
The problem here is that the RAAF's (actually ADF's) budget is full. It has to be; if we had funds not 'spent' they'd go to another Department. In fact, it's even over-spent a bit and (thanks to a very, very questionable 3-star decision in the past) there are actually things in service that don't have sustainment funding. And thanks to both sides of government, the Dept of Defence is the only Department that has a long-term budget. Which means that the IIP between now and 2036 is full. It is highly unlikely (and I'm not actually a fan of it) that Defence will receive a funding boost - especially when there is no threat to justify it.
So. The budget is fixed. And it is all spent. How do you pay for Loyal Wingman? A cheap, useful capability is still going to be hundreds of millions (ignoring workforce costs). You have two choices - you can wait until ~2034 or you can give up something now. That something doesn't have to be RAAF - but it has to be something in the Joint Force that Loyal Wingman has a better capability for.
So what do you do?
This. This. This. This. @Todjaeger nails it.
To give a rough idea for those who aren't familiar with the ROM costings (these are reasonable estimations - but not exact), here are some guides (in constant):
acquisition cost is about equal to a decade of sustainment cost.
Assume $250 k / ADF member and $150 k for APS for workforce.
Weapons / stores will cost ~ 1% of acquisition. Note this ignores complexity, but it models a handful of super complex missiles for a fighter fleet or a bunch of dumb 155 mm shells for an arty piece.
Mid-life upgrade / LOTE / CAP will be about 50% of acquisition every decade. Of course, this is the constant figure, and allowing for our inflation rate and all that, the actual bill at the end of this activity will pretty much be the same figure as the bill at the end of acquisition. So your 2020 platform will cost ~$10 m in 2020 dollars and ~$10 m in 2030 dollars for its upgrade). Cyber / comms / EW heavy? Double the $ or halve the years.
The risk of overspend for anything new probably adds 30 - 50% (new in tech, not just cutting edge)
Electronic heavy? You are risking ~ 12 - 30 months late with ~ 15% acquisition bill in consequential overspending
For a worked example. Let's buy some fighters (it is a RAAF thread...) for $100 m each and there is 12 platforms in the fleet. FOC is 2025. You need to budget $1.2 b for the first purchase, then $2.4 b for the 20 year life. So our fleet of 12 that needs about 350 people in the unit has about $87.5 m per year in salaries and the like. Now, we may have to pay those people anyhow, but your 12 platform Squadron (costing $3.6 b already) just had another $1.75 b added to the bill. Shooty stuff will add another $250 m. Your CAP at 2035 adds $600 m. Our fighter squadron (of cheap, $100 m airframes) will actually cost us around $6 b.
Of that $6 b - you have to put $4.25 b into the IIP (let DPG handle workforce). All of a sudden, a handful of $100 m jets is bloody expensive.
Applying this to Loyal Wingman - a $5 mil / airframe. Each fighter Sqn needs some + training fleet + attrition fleet. So a 150 airframe purchase. No CAP - we'll replace them after a decade. They are brand new, so need their own workforce. Total bill for this cheap and cheerful UAV? $3.2 billion dollars.
Finally - be careful of assumptions. Large fleets of cheap stuff can cost as much as small fleets of expensive stuff. Take Army for example. Generally, the most expensive platforms to sustain are the helicopters - somewhere between 20% - 45% of the annual Army budget depending on what figures you use. Two years ago, the one single item that cost the most wasn't a helicopter - they were #2 onwards. It was something much more common (fleet size in the tens of thousands) and chaper (figure ~4 figures / platform). But because of that + a combination of fleet work, it ended up costing more than the helicopters.....
Part 3 is up, Projecting power with the F-35 (part 3): operational implications | The Strategist
This is an interesting series. In the immediate future I'd hope to see the RAAF invest in a robust stockpile of standoff weapons. LRASM for the Rhinos and P8s comes to mind, and I'd like to see JSM integrated into the F35s as a matter of urgency too.