Hundreds of US F-15s, F-16s and B-1s will be retired
WASHINGTON, (BM) – The U.S. Air Force is planning major cuts to its current inventory of fighters and bombers, and with the bulk of these aircraft dating back to the Cold War retirement could seriously reduce overall operational costs for the American fleet, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, quoting Military Watch Magazine.
The radical new plan would see most of the service’s F-15 Eagles and hundreds of its F-16s retired, alongside early retirement of the B-1B Lancer heavy bomber and other older designs, to save funds for reinvestment into a new generation of combat jets.
Although the U.S. military budget has increased considerably in recent years, it remains far too limited to modernise the Air Force’s inventory at a speed deemed necessary. While retirement plans have been watered down considerably since initially proposed, they are still considered extremely radical.
All 250 F-15C/D eagle air superiority fighters would be retired – cutting the serving air superiority fleet by 57%. The Air Force previously sought to retire its MQ-9 Reaper drones, U-2 spy planes and RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft – but these proposals were all refused by the U.S. Congress.
Plans to retire the A-10 Warthog attack jet have also faced stern opposition – with no viable replacement available.
Of the three major classes of combat jet set to be retired, all have next generation replacements set to enter service in the coming years to fill their roles – albeit in smaller numbers.
The B-1B is set to be replaced by the B-21 Raider next generation stealth bomber in the near future, while F-15 and F-16 fighters will be replaced by F-15X and F-35A fighters respectively. The next generation F-X sixth generation air superiority fighter will also be able to take on much of the burden of the existing F-15C fleet, and could also see part of the F-22 Raptor fleet phased out of service.
The F-15C and F-22 are two of the most costly fighter classes in the world to operate, and the F-15X and possibly the F-X will be considerable easier to maintain.
While most of the ageing aircraft scheduled for retirement have been upgraded since entering service, F-15s and F-16s are increasingly outmatched by newer and more sophisticated designs fielded by rival powers such as the Russian Su-35 and Chinese J-10C.
The F-16 has been in service for over 40 years, while the F-15 in 2021 will have been in service for 45 years .
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Source: Military Watch