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FW: STLtoday article: Boeing's F-15 tries to stay aloft

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  • wayne binkley
    wayne d.binkley
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2005
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      wayne d.binkley <wbinkley@...>




      >From: EMAF@...
      >Reply-To: wbinkley@...
      >To: wbinkley@...
      >Subject: STLtoday article: Boeing's F-15 tries to stay aloft from
      >wbinkley@...
      >Date: Mon, 1 Aug 2005 10:16:50 -0500
      >
      >
      >This STLtoday.com article -- "Boeing's F-15 tries to stay aloft"-- has
      >been sent to you by: "wbinkley@..."
      >
      >Boeing's F-15 tries to stay aloft
      >By Tim McLaughlin
      >Of the Post-Dispatch
      >
      >
      >Here is the story.
      >
      >Boeing Co.'s St. Louis-made F-15 Eagle used to be the sure thing of fighter
      >jet procurement. Now the aging fighter is just a long shot in its own
      >country.
      >
      >Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, says the
      >odds are against the U.S. Air Force signing a multiyear deal to buy more
      >F-15s. That assessment isn't surprising as the Pentagon prepares to spend
      >billions of dollars over the next few decades for the F/A-22 Raptor and
      >F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, two planes under development by Lockheed Martin
      >Corp.
      >
      >Still, some influential members of Congress say the Air Force needs a hedge
      >against production delays or cost overruns. They believe the F-15 can play
      >an important role in keeping the country's dwindling inventory of fighter
      >jets at a healthy level during the transition to the Raptor and JSF.
      >
      >One potential scenario has the Air Force buying anywhere from 100 to 144
      >F-15s as insurance against a slip in the JSF program, according to people
      >familiar with informal discussions that started about two years ago.
      >
      >That would be a boon for the F-15 program. Production of the storied combat
      >plane will end in 2008, unless Boeing wins more orders. St. Louis defense
      >workers have made more than 1,500 of the F-15s. The first F-15A flight was
      >made in 1972.
      >
      >Currently, the most hopeful market for more F-15s is Singapore, which could
      >make a decision as early as next month on whether to take the Boeing plane
      >or a French-made fighter in a competition worth an estimated $1 billion.
      >
      >Albaugh, meanwhile, isn't raising hopes for any big orders from the U.S.
      >Air Force.
      >
      >"Oh, I think that would be kind of a long shot," Albaugh told the
      >Post-Dispatch in a telephone interview last week. "Obviously, that depends
      >on our customer and what they want to do. Right now, I think that's a real
      >long shot. But I think there's an opportunity for us to extend the F-15
      >line by winning the competition in Singapore. I think there's an
      >opportunity to get some additional airplanes in Korea. And it would always
      >be nice to have a warm production line in the event our U.S. customers
      >decide they want some more."
      >
      >If more F-15s are ordered, Boeing would be able to deliver them at whatever
      >build rate is desired by the U.S. Air Force, Boeing said in a statement
      >earlier this month.
      >
      >Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services
      >Committee, suggested that Air Force fighter procurement needs a boost,
      >especially in the early years of Raptor and JSF production.
      >
      >"There's only one alternative," Hunter said at a committee hearing earlier
      >this month. "And that's to bridge that gap between that little bitty
      >inventory of aircraft that we're going to have in the future of (Raptors)
      >and Joint Strike Fighters, and that would be to produce more F-15s and
      >F-16s."
      >
      >Hunter is worried the Pentagon may be writing off the F-15 and F-16 too
      >quickly.
      >
      >"Would we not need to maintain production on those two aircraft well into
      >the future, even as those lines, at least with the F-15, are going cold
      >here shortly?" he asked at a committee hearing that included Lt. Gen.
      >Stephen G. Wood, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for plans and
      >programs. "... I don't see another answer."
      >
      >The Pentagon's current Quadrennial Defense Review will help answer
      >questions about the future of the F-15 as military leaders discuss fighter
      >jet force requirements. But Wood made it clear at the House Armed Services
      >Committee hearing that the F-15 won't be at the forefront of those
      >discussions.
      >
      >The Air Force will push hard on "articulating the importance" of the
      >Raptor, for example. The Bush administration's defense budget sharply
      >reduced planned deliveries of the Raptor to 179 planes. The Air Force's
      >stated goal calls for getting 381.
      >
      >When Hunter asked Wood if there's a need to have bridge production of F-15
      >aircraft, the general said he couldn't rule it out, especially when you
      >assess the uncertainties that come with developing new fighter jets.
      >
      >"If we can't get more (Raptors) and we have significant slips in the (Joint
      >Strike Fighter) program, we're going to have to continue to look at
      >bridging that, and it's very viable to look into other aircraft," the
      >general said. "But, sir, I would tell you that we're working very hard in
      >the Quadrennial Defense Review to make the case that the nation needs 381
      >(Raptors) and to keep that line going."
      >
      >[<B>]Reporter Tim McLaughlin[</B>]
      >[<B>]E-mail: tmclaughlin@...[</B>]
      >[<B>]Phone: 314-340-8206[</B>]
      >
      >
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