Interesting how supposedly “obsolete” but great military airplanes never disappear:
- USA has chosen the B-52 (first flown 1952) to outlast the B-1 and B-2 due to high maintenance costs and low dispatch rate of the newer stealth bombers. More.
- USA relies on the F-5/T-38 (first flown 1959) for a large percent of its “behind-the-scenes” training and testing military operations. So much so that Cold War Military Assistance Program (MAP) versions are being repatriated from overseas and overhauled for drone use.
NASA’s forward-swept X-29 (2 copies) were an F-5 body with modified F-16 wings. Unfortunately the wings were cut with a titanium chainsaw to ship to a museum instead of via the Panama Canal or ferrying, so they won’t fly again.
X-29 #049. Notice tufting on the wing surface, aft fuselage and aft control surfaces to visualize airflow, which is expected to flow from wingtip to inboard for a forward-swept wing. Each of the parties that funded the research is listed on the side.
Swiss Air Force F-5E. USA is buying back 22 plus spares for Top Gun and other programs.
“Perhaps the most interesting aviation item in the FY20 request is that for 22 Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II aircraft, to be divided equally between the Navy and Marine Corps. These aircraft will be acquired to improve and expand the adversary fleets of both services. The Navy bought 44 F-5E/Fs from Switzerland in the 2000s, refurbishing them as F-5Ns. The new batch of 22 is also coming from Switzerland, and the aircraft are due for refurbishment by Northrop Grumman at its St Augustine, Florida, facility. The value of this requested purchase is just under $40 million for all 22 aircraft and spares.”
- India lost a MiG-21 (first flown 1959) in the Kashmir air battle in Feb. 2019
- India is buying more MiG-29s (first flown 1977) for $40 million each
What those planes all have in common is that they had all-metal airframes that required low maintenance – none are fly by wire or composite (Mig 29 has minimal composites.) The fighters can all land on grass strips and be maintained without a hangar or special tools.
nytimes.com: After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its ‘Vintage’ Military
reuters.com: Washington wants to know if Pakistan used U.S.-built jets to down Indian warplane
ainonline.com: India Requests Additional MiG-29 Fighters
Pentagon To Retire USS Truman Early, Shrinking Carrier Fleet To 10
W: MiG-21, MiG-29, F-5, B-52
Did Pakistan use its Chinese JF-17 jets to shoot down Indian planes?
Fighting Falcon puts off retirement: F-16 to fly for USAF through 2048
Dutch F-16 flies into its own bullets, scores self-inflicted hits
avweb.com: Sometimes Old Technology Is Appropriate