Skip to comments.NavAir Offers F-18 Ammo Amid JSF Woes
Posted on 01/12/2010 11:41:52 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
NavAir Offers F-18 Ammo Amid JSF Woes
By Colin Clark Tuesday, January 12th, 2010 2:17 pm
Posted in Air, International, Naval, Policy
Congressional aides are beginning to wonder if the Navy should buy the carrier version of the Joint Strike Fighter, in light of the programs rising price tag and its higher flight costs.
Im growing more and more convinced that the Navy variant of the F-35 might not be worth buying. The program is sliding further and further to the right, as costs increase. When we have an 80 percent solution in active production, and significantly cheaper, the F-35C looks like a great candidate for cancellation, said one congressional aide. Gates has talked about choosing 75 percent solutions over expensive exquisite systems and this is a perfect candidate.
For its part, the Navy, already worried it wont have enough planes for its carrier fleet, has briefed senior Pentagon leaders that the Joint Strike Fighter program will have a significant impact on naval aviation affordability in the FYDP and beyond.
A source who follows JSF closely quoted portions of the NavAir study, Joint Programs TOC Affordability. A congressional aide who has seen the report confirmed the information. The study was briefed to DoD leaders earlier this month;
The source said that the study finds the cost to operate and support the F-35 (all variants) will be $442 billion or more depending on additional costs for integration on ships and currently unforeseen development costs. This estimate is in FY 2002 program baseline dollars; the current dollar cost will be significantly higher. The production and development costs are cited, by the JET II, to be $217 and $46 billion respectively (2002 $), thereby making total program ownership cost to be $704 billion, or more, in 2002 dollars,: according to this source.
That would put operating costs of the F-35 B and C versions some 40 percent higher than the cost to operate the existing (larger) fleet of F-18A-Ds and AV-8s. Cost per flight hour of the combined F-18A-D and AV-8 fleets is estimated to be about $19,000 per hour; F-35B/C cost per flight hour is estimated to be about $31,000, the source said. These higher and growing operating costs are certainly typical for a new generation aircraft, but the revelation of these estimates at this relatively early point in the program would seem to demonstrate some real and growing concern that the highly complex F-35 is anything but affordable.
An industry source noted that the chief of Naval operations has been very interested across the force in terms of total operating costs. It is significant that this study addresses this. The industry source said that Super Hornet flying hour costs are about $5,000 an hour.
A second congressional aide raised some questions about the studys methodology, saying that the worker level people, when asked about the assumptions by an assistant secretary in the Navy, didnt have real good answers to that question. So while some of the numbers are very specific, the assumptions are not. But this aide, who follows both programs, agreed that the NavAir study was a good argument for the F-18. But yes, if they are looking for tails versus presumed better capability for more money and given the budget crunch and need for more ships they have HUGE problems, the aide said.
The source who provided the study results noted that it shows nothing for F-18E/F flight hour costs, which makes me suspicious.
While Congress may not be ready to cancel the carrier version of the F-35, the industry source noted that support for the F-18 has been gaining momentum in the Congress really over the last three years, largely to address what has been identified as a shortfall in the number of planes available. Each year more and more language has been written noting Congress concern with the shortfall as well as questioning what the Navy and DoD are going to do about it.
Most interestingly, this source said the Navy is looking over the long term for a sixth generation aircraft, one with increased range, increased persistence, increased speed and increased payload. The F-35 is, of course, a fifth generation fighter.
Hmm. I think I’d rather spend the extra dime on carrier based F-35s. If anything, I’d can the non-carrier based F-35 and adopt F-22s instead, but alas, Pelosi & Friends say no.
I have been suspicious about the F-35 for a long time. It just seems to me that they are trying to demand too much from that airplane and in doing so are making it too complicated to work.
Having said that, I do not think the F-18 has too many more years in it, despite all the upgrades, so it’s a bit of a pickle.
PukinDog is laughing somewhere.
When are we going to stop building nothing but attack planes? They need fighters to defend them.
Take that vertical lift fan out of the damn thing. Don’t need to carry around the extra weight when you don’t need it most of the time.
F-22, finest fighter in the world,
Cancelled by you-know-who.
The F-35 has to many issues including payload which is limited but has a “potential” to carry more then the F-18. The F-18 has a limited payload as well and no legs in fact it has 36 percent of the F-14’s payload/range capability... The F-14 was the last good F/A aircraft. Long legs and a hell of a payload.
Not my area of expertise but I do know the Marines are right at the point of deploying their vertical takeoff version. Wouldn’t this put a real crimp in their plans if the Navy scrapped their plans?
I'm sorry to inform you that George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld canceled the F-22. Congress kept slipping in buys of 2-4 aircraft in each year's budget.
The Carrier variant does not have the fan. Nor the Airforce version. Only the Marine version has it (and the brits are getting it).
The former engineering manager of the F-14, Bob Kress, estimates that the F/A-18E/F has about 66% the range / payload capability of the F-14.
F-18 E/F: Performance
Maximum speed: Mach 1.8+ (1,190 mph, 1,900 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
Range: 1,275 nmi (2,346 km) clean plus two AIM-9s
Combat radius: 390 nmi (449 mi, 722 km) for interdiction mission
Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,070 mi, 3,330 km)
Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (15,000+ m)
Wing loading: 92.8 lb/ft² (453 kg/m²)
Armament: 17,750 pounds
Maximum speed: Mach 2.34 (1,544 mph, 2,485 km/h) at high altitude
Combat radius: 500 nm Hi-Med-Hi strike profile
380 nm Hi-Lo-Lo-Hi strike profile
Ferry range: 1,600 nmi (1,840 mi, 2,960 km)
Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,200 m)
Rate of climb: >45,000 ft/min (229 m/s)
Wing loading: 113.4 lb/ft² (553.9 kg/m²)
Right, because the former manager of the program is not at all biased. Heh.
I read the numbers wrong, it is not double. But, for the same combat mission profile (hi-lo-lo-hi), per the reference you posted, the F-18 does 390nm and the 14 does 380nm.
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How does the F-35 handle vs. the F-18 or any other first rate fighter, for that matter. I have had some reports, but nothing concrete yet.
Don’t know and could not tell you if I did.