‘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
With its supercruise, maneuverability, integrated avionics, stealth, and improved supportability, the F-22 Raptor represents a revolutionary advancement in warfighting capabilities. Due to the Raptor’s ability to conduct air-to-ground and air-to-air missions, operational concepts essential to the Air Force of the twenty-first century can now be fully realized.
An essential part of the Global Strike Task Force, the F-22 is built to project air dominance quickly and over long distances, defeating adversaries trying to prevent the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps from entering the country. There isn’t a fighter aircraft that can compete with the F-22, either current or planned.
But in 2009, even with the Raptor’s unique capabilities, government officials decided to officially stop producing the F-22 because of the aircraft’s exorbitant cost per unit and shifting military needs in response to post-Cold War challenges.
However, was it the right choice to stop F-22 production?
‘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 its own production costs, this price almost halves with the second aircraft, 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 shortsighted 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 by Lockheed Martin, Boeing, U.S. Air Force