Aviation History

USAF SNCO explains why if the F-22 production line hadn’t been torn apart years ago, today the Raptor would have about the same cost of the F-15EX Eagle II

‘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,’ Gregg Gray, former USAF SNCO.

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?

Gregg Gray, former US Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) who worked at the White House, explains on Quora;

‘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.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-22A Raptor 192nd Fighter Wing, 149th Fighter Squadron, FF/04-4082 – Langley AFB, VA – 2014

‘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.’

Gray concludes;

‘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

This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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