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Joint Attack Fighter (JAF) 1993

One of the major issues addressing the DoD's Bottom Up Review (BUR was the existence of five tactical aircraft development programs: the F-22, the F/A-18E/F, the A/F-X, ASTOVL and the MRF. These five programs were too costly to continue on their own, so the BUR studied the needs of US theater air forces in an effort to define an affordable plan to meet those needs. The most realistic alternative was a Joint Attack Fighter (JAF) presented jointly by the USN and USAF.

The Joint Advanced Fighter was envisioned during the BUR as a single airframe that could incorporate both high and low end capability, both carrier and land based operations, supersonic flight and a STOVL variant. The following characteristics were projected to be incorporated into the JAF: Unit flyaway cost: $40-$45 Million, Range: 500 miles, Take Off Gross Weight (TOGW): 35,000-40,000 lbs, modular design for a multi-role, multi-service capability, and Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2009.

Under the advice of a Defense Science Board Task Force, which stated that the JAF program was not sufficiently defined to allow meaningful analysis, the JAF concentrated its design on the concept of slightly differing airframes with common components. Under this concept, two different airframes would be considered which would utilize a common engine, common avionics architecture, common weapons, and a manufacturing process to facilitate efficient production and a high degree of cost commonality over the life cycle of the platforms.

The analytical framework applied in the BUR would benefit, from a capability to characterize and directly account for the aircraft-SAM battle as well as aircraft against aircraft (e.g. the SEAD campaign is not explicitly modeled, but is implicitly accounted for in the current analysis). There are inherent limitations of this type in a performance model analysis, as compared to a more comprehensive simulation/engineering analysis which could not be conducted in the limited time available.

While a great deal of progress has been made in understanding the effectiveness of various alternatives during the past several weeks, more work is needed to fully assess the effects of standoff weapons, SEAD, and the tradeoffs associated with bombers and TLAM.

It did not appear likely that the capabilities described by the Navy and the Air Force were likely to be achieved in a single, common airframe. Navy interests were necessarily focused on the high end, (with the added demands of carrier suitability), while the Air Force interests are focused on a low cost (proably single engine) MRF.

The DSB Task Force suggested that a more likely solution might be two different airframes, with the objective of developing a common engine (or engine core), common Avionics architecture, common weapons (to include racks and launchers) and a process that facilitates manufacturing base commonality for two different airframes. It would probably have been necessary to undertake additional effort: in concept, development and demonstration, supported by underlying technology development before such a joint program can be suitably defined. The objective of such a joint effort would be a high degree of cost commonality. An aggressive goal would be to achieve greater than 70% cost commonality during the life cycles of the platforms. This approach was recommended for the long term needs associated with A/F-X and MRF.



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