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F-35 Buyers Back Away
Strategy Page ^ | March 31, 2010

Posted on 03/31/2010 8:29:53 PM PDT by myknowledge

Denmark has decided to wait, until 2014, to decide what to replace its elderly F-16 fleet with. Meanwhile, 18 of the F-16s will be retired. But the other 30 will be refurbished so that they can continue to operate for the rest of the decade. Denmark had wanted to replace the F-16s with F-35s. But the F-35 keeps getting delayed (now more than two years behind schedule), and is becoming more expensive (nearly a hundred percent over budget). The Danish F-35 buy is no longer a sure thing. The delays have lots of users concerned. The U.S. Navy has been nervously watching as the costs of the new F-35C and F-35B carrier aircraft versions go up.

It comes down to this. Currently, it costs the navy, on average, $19,000 an hour to operate its AV-8 vertical takeoff and F-18C fighter aircraft. It costs 63 percent more to operate the F-35C (which will replace the F-18C) and the F-35B (which will replace the AV-8). These costs include buying the aircraft, training and maintaining the pilots, the aircraft and purchasing expendable items (fuel, spare parts, munitions.) Like the F-22, which recently had production capped at less than 200 aircraft, the capabilities, as superior as they were, did not justify the much higher costs. The F-35, at least for the navy, is headed in the same direction. The navy can go ahead with the more recent F-18E, and keep refurbishing, or even building, the AV-8. Politics, and lobbying by the F-35 manufacturer, will probably keep the F-35 headed for fleet service, no matter what the cost.

The 27 ton F-35 is armed with an internal 25mm cannon and four internal air-to-air missiles (or two missiles and two smart bombs). Plus four external smart bombs and two missiles. All sensors are carried internally, and max weapon load is 6.8 tons. The aircraft is very stealthy when just carrying internal weapons.

Development costs for the new U.S. F-35 fighter-bomber has grown by a third, to $60 billion, over the last few years. That means the average development cost of the estimated 5,000 F-35s to be built, will be about $12 million each. The additional development costs are accompanied by additional delays before the aircraft enters service. Production costs will average about $84 million. With a share of development costs, that makes the per aircraft cost $96 million. This cost estimate continues to rise, and is expected to eventually exceed $130 million per aircraft.

Like the F-22 fighter, the F-35 is stealthy, and is stuffed with lots of new technology. Most (about 60 percent) of the F-35s built will be used by foreign nations. The rising cost of the F-35 brings with it reluctance to buy as many aircraft currently planned. The success of smart bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan has also made it clear that fewer aircraft will be needed in the future. In any event, it's likely that F-35s will end up costing more than $100 million each.

TOPICS: Military/Veterans; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: aerospace; f35; f35lightningii; lockheedmartin

This jet is become more of a waste of money, the Raptor worthy of a resurrection.

1 posted on 03/31/2010 8:29:53 PM PDT by myknowledge
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2 posted on 03/31/2010 8:31:52 PM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("I have learned to use the word "impossible" with the greatest caution."-Dr.Wernher Von Braun)
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To: myknowledge

Looks to me like we might as well skip the f35 all together and just order a few more f22s.

3 posted on 03/31/2010 8:40:34 PM PDT by mamelukesabre (Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If you want peace prepare for war))
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To: myknowledge
I have real mixed emotions on this.

We need more F22's, but the F22 wasn't designed for the F35 role and trying to morph it would certainly reduce it's positive aspect.
The cost comparison suffers from including original cost of the aircraft, I did not see opposing costs to refurbish existing airframes to extend their life or capabilities...but most all government cost estimates are bogus so what's new?
From experience I'd assume that most cost increase results from (a) government adding hundreds of nit-noi little changes that amount to another half of the cost, (b) manufacturer/supplier unwillingness to step up to the full costs of the original bid as well as the combined impact of "little" changes, and (c) the basic idea of designing a USAF/USN common fighter.

P39 was a hot rod until the feds added all their bells and whistles...
Warhawks and Hurricanes were sub standard warplanes before they saw combat, but imagine winning that war without either one(!)
Was the F105 a junker that was merely pressed into two specific missions because it was there, or was it the only thing available at the time that could survive those missions?
Same question applies the the F/B111, and it adds the F35 parallel of having blown billions failing to navalize it before finding a land based home.

All of the above were transitional, old giving way to new, the F35 is likely also a transitional aircraft but can we afford to wait out the next generation?

I think the bottom line is that the F35 should provide an attack capability lacking in the F22, F35 is not an A10, but it's closer than the '22 (and AF is genetically opposed to ground support anyway), and when the balloon goes up a slight edge is way better than a gaping hole.

4 posted on 03/31/2010 9:34:30 PM PDT by norton
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To: norton
"We need more F22's, but the F22 wasn't designed for the F35 role and trying to morph it would certainly reduce it's positive aspect."

I simply do not understand this line of reasoning. Now that the F-22's radar has had the needed software upgrades, it does strike missions. Its weapons bays holds more ordinance than the JSF's will. There's nothing the JSF will do that the Raptor won't do better, and for similar costs. $130 million per aircraft is ridiculous and stupid, but if you're dead set on spending that kind of money, then good lord, it's no contest. Get the Raptor.
5 posted on 03/31/2010 9:47:58 PM PDT by DesScorp
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