The 90 F16A/B variants flown by the IDF have been officially retired from service. Exactly two F-35s meant to replace them have been delivered. This is pretty much a sign of things to come for western aligned air forces across the planet. Legacy “cold war” airframes are just wearing out, and “what the hell to we replace them with?” is a serious question. http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/After-36-years-IAF-retires-last-F-16-Netz-fighter-jets-476725
In other news, the officer in charge of the F-35 project lambasted President Elect Trump by saying that all the bad stuff about cost over runs and delays happened in the past and he’s really tightened down on the price tag. And then he admitted that the F-35 program will likely still face some delays in it’s development phase… http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2016/12/20/F-35-program-is-not-out-of-control-JSF-chief-fires-back-at-Trump/9951482251830/?spt=sec&or=bn
Seriously, are we still in the development phase of this turkey? The initial JSF program kicked off twenty one freaking years ago, and LM won the bid sixteen years ago. There are LITERALLY Airmen, Marines, and Sailors who saw the program start, and are RETIRING now without ever seeing ANY variant of the F-35 achieve full operational capability.
Right now Boeing is in a particularly interesting spot, possibly on receiving end of several very large multi-year contracts for new F-15 and F-18 contracts if Lockheed Martin can’t get the F-35 under control. Because as nice as it is to get a small number of F-35s that are still in development, and may still need extensive retrofitting as the bugs continue to get worked out, having a new fleet of Eagles or Hornets will ensure you actually have a combat capability that can stand up to the best that Russia and China currently have available. Boeing, and to a large extent the Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafael, are in a really good position if Lockheed Martin stumbles enough to get the next administration to focus on upgrades and replacements to current aircraft fleets instead of going “die in a ditch” for the F-35. http://www.fool.com/investing/2016/12/30/tens-of-billions-of-dollars-f-15-upgrades-project.aspx
As of last year, the USAF was looking to massively upscale the F-15 combat performance envelope, to achieve the “right mix of capabilities” between the F-15, F-22, and F-35. The idea is to have “ordnance delivery platforms” like the F-15 carry a lot of “boom” and stealthy “quarterback” planes like the F-35 and F-22 provide an information advantage to the entire “swarm” in the sky. It’s a good concept, and it can work. http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/americas-f-15-fighter-will-soon-carry-double-the-amount-17384
One thing that had been suspiciously absent from the USAF purchase plan is a dedicated electronic attack platform that can fly fast enough to keep up with the fighter jets. No longer, the proposal to transfer the electronics from the EC-130 platform with a max speed of 560 km/h to the G550 airframe with a 960 km/h max speed should fill that niche rather nicely: https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usaf-proposes-gulfstream-g550-caew-to-re-host-electr-425173/ And it must be noted that the 42 million per G550 is a veritable bargain compared to the flyaway cost of 67 million of a C-130J in 2014 dollars.