The F-22 Raptor is a combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. The Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions allowing full realization of operational concepts vital to the 21st century Air Force.
The F-22, a critical component of the Global Strike Task Force, is designed to project air dominance, rapidly and at great distances and defeat threats attempting to deny access to our nation’s Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft.
However, despite the Raptor’s unique capabilities, the enormous price tag per aircraft, along with changes in the military requirements for post Cold-War challenges, lead government officials to the decision to officially cease production of the F-22 in 2009.
But was stopping production of the F-22 the right decision?
‘Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in the Bush 43 and Obama Administrations was willing to move both heaven and hell to cut the production of the F-22 off. Unfortunately, President Obama didn’t see the mistake that was being made by doing this and happily allowed Gates and company to convince Congress to move the funding to other areas. Gates believed that the future was in the F-35 and that is where we should be moving towards.
‘It may very well be the biggest procurement blunder in the history of the Air Force, the Army Air Force, the Army Air Corps, and even the Balloon Division of the Army Signal Corps.
‘The cost of R&D is all front loaded and then it is effectively spread out over the entire production run. The first aircraft in the production run effectively costs the cost of all the R&D plus It’s own production costs, this price almost halves with the second air craft, and so on. The original production run was supposed to be 750 aircraft. Instead it was cut to 187 production aircraft. So, when R&D was figured in each aircraft cost $361,000,000 instead of $90,000,000 or even less as the run moved forward.
‘Another reason that the aircraft cost as much as it did as Congress prohibited foreign sales (which I agree with on an aircraft like this). Foreign sales would have spread the R&D cost out even further.’
‘It was short sighted on the Obama Administration’s part. They were trying to cash in a Peace Dividend as the Russian and Chinese didn’t have a Stealth Aircraft program that was going anywhere and it was felt that our limited number of F-22s combined with F-35s would be able to handle the air superiority role against anything the other nations might put up. The F-22 was supposed to replace the F-15, but of course that couldn’t happen with just 187 of them. So, the lifetime of the F-15 was extended while the F-35 was being brought online. Now that program is hugely behind, so guess what?
‘We are buying new 4th generation F-15EX models, the very family of aircraft that the 5th generation F-22 was supposed to replace. They are going to cost $84 million each, about what brand new F-22s would have cost us (If the F-22 production line hadn’t been torn apart years ago).’
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, U.S. Air Force
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