Skip to comments.USAF re-assessing 5th generation fighter numbers
Posted on 02/29/2012 4:44:28 AM PST by EnjoyingLife
The US Air Force is re-assessing its numbers of so-called fifth-generation fighters, although it is still not backing off its commitment to buy 1,763 Lockheed Martin F-35As over the next 35 years.
The USAF now plans to operate about 185 Lockheed F-22As along with the F-35A fleet, amounting to a combined force of nearly 1,950 fighters with the stealth, manouevrability and advanced sensors that meet the service's definition for fifth-generation capability.
However, as cost increases and the budget reductions lowered planned orders of F-22As from 750 to less than 200 over the last 20 years, some have rasised questions about the USAF's ability to afford the full F-35A fleet size.
I’d be surprised if the USAF ends up buying more than 500 F-35As.
Look for the total number of aircraft in all services to slowly approach zero. All defense $$ will slowly be sucked away by entitlement program and interest costs.
All the F-22 bashers around here should reflect a long time on the following quote from USAF Lieutenant General Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, deputy chief of operations, plans and requirements:
Despite the cost increases and technical glitches expereinced by both F-22 and F-35 programmed, the USAF expects to operate the most capable fighters in the world. While the F-22 is an air-to-air specialist and the F-35 is designed for ground attack, Carlisle said both fighters still have no equal.F-22 production clearly should be restarted as soon as practical, with exports allowed to Japan and Australia. We should also replace some F-35 orders with F-22 orders, since the F-22 is now the less expensive alternative. That cost would continue to drop as more planes are manufactured.
"The F-22 does better air-to-groud than anybody than the F-35," Carlisle said, "and the F-35 does air-to-air better than anything in the world except the F-22."
Not to mention that the F-22 is already mission-capable!
Also note that the USAF sees a strong air-to-ground role for the F-22.
This surprizes who?
We’re sending our industry and money to China.
What else can happen?
We are becoming a non-nation, no industry, no jobs and no money.
Of course we are going to collapse. How’s that “free trade” thing working America?
I’d be surprised if America survives long enough to build 500 Tonka Trucks if this communist clown is re-elected..
The F-22 is NOT the less expensive alternative. Unit flyaway costs for the last F-22 was around $180 million, but that did not include the development costs. Adding the development costs over 187 airframes averages out to around $350 million per aircraft average procurement cost.
The core of the story was Congress proposed buying just one airplane and let the Army fly it on even number days and the Navy to fly it on odd number days.
Will the AF buy the F-35 in numbers it wants to? Based on the most recent aircraft buys that ain't going to happen. The F-22 buy was greatly cut. The B-2 buy was cut even more. The future bomber program has been around as a study program for 5 years now and its employment dates have slipped every year.
The AF wants to buy aircraft with no immediate operational need. Can you see the F-35 and B-2 using even a small percentage of their “combat capabilities” in Africa or Latin America? I mention Africa because that is where the war on terrorism has moved and Latin America stands an excellent probably of following Africa.
Yet, the AF is anxious to spend billions upon billions of dollars to fight a future war (like World War III in Central Europe) and nothing to fight the current fight in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.
Need mo money fo food stamps.
I find the fly-away cost at $152.5M per copy, with the total weapons system cost per jet at $188M (FY2012 proposed budget, http://www.saffm.hq.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-110211-038.pdf). While we stopped producing the jet, FY12 budget numbers are included in the budget docs as accounting details become more specific.
Regardless, selling the F-22 overseas would literally take an act of congress beyond the usual FMS approval processes. The Boland Amendment, passed when the F-22 was authorized, stipulated the F-22 was to be internal to the US, only, and therefore prohibited from foreign sales.
As a complicating factor for foreign military sales (FMS), the F-22 was not designed with FMS protections and limitations. Cost estimates to modify the source-code to allow export run to $500m and up (total cost, not cost per jet).
This lug, added to the total weapons system cost truly make it unaffordable to most all allies. . .even the US.
From an original purchase plan of over 700 jets, we only acquired 187 jets-—and that number includes 6 jets to be used as test aircraft and 2 jets for RDT&E.
Sad thing, too, as the F-22 is a spectacular jet.
Oh, forgot to add the F-35 unit flyaway cost is estimated at roughly $89M per jet with total weapons system cost at $95M per jet. . .if you believe the cost estimates and if we hold to the current acquisition number of jets. Currently, FY12, unit flyaway cost is listed as $151M and total weapons system cost is $192.
So. . .yes, if we base the numbers on today’s cost, the F-35 is more expensive than the F-22. . .but that is an accounting trick, only, and not a true representation of the cost.
The F-35 is less expensive if we look at the total cost per jet after the buy is complete, not at today’s cost spread over few jets.
It's worse than that. Only that last 91 aircraft are fully capable of receiving the newest air-to-air and air-to-ground software.
That entirely remains to be seen. Actually the flyaway cost for the last buy of F-22s was about $140 million per plane.
The current flyaway cost of the various F-35 models is running $122 million, $150 million, and $139.5 million for the A, B and C variants respectively. Note that these are not the final production costs, because the F-35 is still under development, and the cost will almost certainly rise from there.
It's silly to worry about the cost of the F-22 program, that is a sunk cost. On the other hand, the F-35 program is still ongoing, and has an extensive history of delays and rising costs.
But fine, I'll amend my statement - for about the same price as the F-35, we could be buying far more capable aircraft which are operational now. In a sane world, we'd buy a few hundred more F-22s and a few hundred less F-35s.
Stephen you left out some information about your highlights. For point number two Dave specifically mentions that while the block 30 (increment 3.1) jets do not have the ESMS that enable AIM-9X and -120D capability, they *are* looking at other solutions for adding those weapons; so never is a bit disingenuous. For point number three JROC did not asses HMCS as a core capability for the F-22 mission. On the F-16 boards Dave said that from his interviews its fiscal rather than a technical hurdle and in his article he mentions that HMCS may be added later.
Personally I think adding SDB, -120D and -9X is more important than a HMCS but the F-22 probably should get it in increment 3.3 or 4. I also think the USAF will eventually have to bite the bullet and move towards a common hardware configuration that enables all F-22 capabilities for the entire fleet; something along the lines of the F-15C MSIP program. This is particularly important with future weapons coming down the line such as JDRADM, LCMCM, SDB II etc. where the older block 30 jets wont be able to employ them with out upgrade.
2) It is disingenuous to compare low rate initial production unit costs with mature full rate production unit costs.
3) The Rand Corporation did a study to estimate how much it would cost to reconstitute the F-22 line and build 75 more F-22s. Their conclusion? $227 million per copy in FY '08 dollars.
Which will probably happen, but not for another decade at least.
What could have been done, and IMHO should have been done, is if we were going to settle on 187 as the final number, then we build 187 aircraft to the newest hardware and wiring standard, and sell off the earlier block aircraft to allies who wanted F-22s such as Japan and Australia.
Speaking of reading links, I just got around to reading your link in your statement: That entirely remains to be seen. Actually the flyaway cost for the last buy of F-22s was about $140 million per plane.
Here's a quote from further down in that article:
"F-22s are costing these days a little over $200 million each. Period."
Which includes program dollars, as opposed to just the cost of the airplane itself - which is the apples-to-apples comparison with the F-35 numbers I provided.
Again, from the article:
In the "Joint Explanatory Statement" accompanying the bill, the House and Senate appropriators specified that $2.907 billion was to be appropriated for 20 F-22s in 2009. The math comes to just about what the Air Force said, $145 million per copy.
“What could have been done, and IMHO should have been done, is if we were going to settle on 187 as the final number, then we build 187 aircraft to the newest hardware and wiring standard, and sell off the earlier block aircraft to allies who wanted F-22s such as Japan and Australia. “
I’m in full agreement!