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The Air Force is eyeing an F-15 variant nobody wants while still struggling with the F-35
After more than a decade and billions spent developing the consistently troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Air Force is eyeing a new variant of the F-15 — much to lawmakers' dismay.
The Air Force's fiscal year 2020 budget request will likely include an ask for eight of Boeing's new F-15X variant, Bloomberg News reports, the first installment of an 80-plane buy for the next five years.
If fulfilled, the request would mark the first U.S. purchase of the fighter since 2001. And while a price tag was unclear, Bloomberg News previously reported that the Pentagon had considered snagging a dozen F-15X fighters for $1.2 billion.
The planned purchase of the new variant of the 45-year-old fourth-generation fighter comes amid the Air Force's continued pursuit of the more advanced fifth-generation F-35, an airframe that remains plagued by reliability issues, including F-35B service life well below projections and "unacceptable" accuracy issues in the F-35A's weapons systems.
A rendering for the F-15X fighter concept(Boeing via The War Zone)
But this split attention is creating tension between the Air Force and lawmakers in Congress tasked with paying for the aircraft, On Tuesday, A group of Republican senators sent a letter to President Donald Trump warning that an F-15 purchase would siphon resources away from — and, in turn, undermine — the F-35 program at the cost of national security.
"We are extremely concerned that, over the last few years, the DoD has underfunded the F-35 Program and relied on Congress to fund increases in production, sustainment, and modernization," the lawmakers wrote. "In order to meet the overmatch and lethality goals laid out in the National Security Strategy, the DoD needs to make these investments in the F-35 to affordably deliver and operate this fifth-generation fighter fleet. The F-35 is the most affordable, lethal, and survivable air dominance fighter, and now is the time to double down on the program."
"New versions of old F-15s designed in the 1970s-1980s cannot survive against the newest Russian and Chinese fifth-generation fighter and surface to air missile threats, not to mention rapidly developing future threats," they added. "This action by the DoD would be a direct departure from the vision you have for a strong national defense."
They're not wrong: The Air Force itself previously expressed disinterest in picking up the aging airframe. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson previously stated that the Air Force instead preferred to invest in expanding its fleet of fifth-generation F-35s rather than look backwards at the fourth-generation F-15X
"We are currently 80 percent fourth-gen aircraft and 20 percent fifth-generation aircraft," Wilson told Defense News in a Sept. 5 interview. "In any of the fights that we have been asked to plan for, more fifth gen aircraft make a huge difference, and we think that getting to 50-50 means not buying new fourth-gen aircraft, it means continuing to increase the fifth generation."
Something tells us this likely wasn't the Air Force's idea: In January, Bloomberg Government reported that the initial push for the new aircraft came from senior leaders within the Pentagon like acting-Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan "and not the Air Force, which would be flying the planes."
In short: the Pentagon appears to be twisting the Air Force's arm to funnel attention and resources to an aging fighter it doesn't even want. Cool. Cool cool cool. Cool.
WATCH NEXT: The F-35 Pulls Off Some Insane Manuevers
An Austrian soldier was apparently killed by two military working dogs that he was charged with feeding, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario has seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya, and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told AL.com Thursday.
The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.
"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."
Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.
"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."