Why Now?
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
  They Just Don't Get It
I have been wondering how long it would take for reality to set in, but a glimmer of light is coming through as reported on MSNBC: High-tech fighter jet faces fight to fit in.

The F/A-22, Raptor, is a wonderful airplane that does great things and can knock anything else flying out of the air, but the problem is: so can the F-15s, F-16s, and F/A-18s that are still flying. There is nothing else around that really challenges them because at the speeds involved, it is the electronics and missiles that really win the fight.

When I first saw these things flying around [this stuff all gets tested around where I live] I thought, nice but what is its job? It's just another YF-12A.

You have probably never heard of the YF-12A, but it was an amazing aircraft: Mach 3 [2,000+ mph] and a ceiling of around 80,000 feet in the 1960's. The problem is that it was supposed to replace the F-106 as an air defense "point-interceptor". Its targets were Soviet bombers, but the Soviet strategic bomber, the TU-95, Bear, had a speed of 500mph, and a ceiling of 40,000 feet. The YF-12A was too much aircraft at too high a price for the job.

Lockheed made minor modifications and the YF-12A became the SR-71, Blackbird, a spy plane that holds a bunch of speed and altitude records for jet aircraft.

The B-1 and B-2 bombers are worthless, without a real mission, and the F/A-22 will join them as expensive "toys" that were bought without critical thought.

It's hard for people to understand, but we often shoot down enemy aircraft with missiles that cost more than the aircraft they destroy. Not terribly cost effective.


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