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  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Last F-22 set to be delivered next spring

Both of the USAF premier fighters have been plagued with significant issues over the last few years. The F-35 is back on track to some extent after numerous delays, even though some are calling for slowdowns in production of the aircraft. The F-22 is in full production, but that production has been problematic, as have existing aircraft.
 
The F-22 has been having problems with its onboard oxygen generation system that results at times in hypoxia-like symptoms for the pilots. The aircraft were on stand-down for a while, but that stand-down was lifted and the aircraft are back in the air. That means that aircraft that Lockheed had produced, but couldn't deliver are now heading to their final USAF homes.
 
That also means that the production line for the F-22 is back in full swing. Lockheed spokeswoman Alison Orne said, "We are delivering jets. The last one delivered was 4185. 4195 will be delivered in late spring 2012."
 
Lockheed also pointed out that while airframe 4185 was technically delivered, it was still undergoing flight-testing. After those tests are complete, the F-22 will be flown to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia where it will be based. The spokeswoman stated that the F-22 would be flown to Langley on December 8.
 
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor production line. [Source: Lockheed Martin] 

The last F-22 that will be built will roll off the assembly line and be delivered in the spring of 2012. That aircraft will be stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska and is set to fly with the 3rd Wing.
 
In October of 2011 after the F-22 was returned to flight status, a wing commander in Virginia placed his fleet of F-22 Raptors on stand-down after another incident where the oxygen generation system of the aircraft was suspected of fault. As of now, no solution has been found to the problems the F-22 and its pilots are experiencing.

Source: Defense News





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Cost over runs
By StinkyWhizzleTeeth on 12/7/2011 4:12:06 PM , Rating: 4
Maybe their should be a law, if possible, where if there are cost over runs the company can't charge above break even. And they have to deliver the hardware that was promised, or the CEO's go to jail.




RE: Cost over runs
By SlyNine on 12/7/2011 5:48:57 PM , Rating: 1
Then no one would bother dealing with the government. We would have no one willing to take the risk.


RE: Cost over runs
By vazili on 12/8/2011 1:03:18 AM , Rating: 2
then they have to be able to predict cost-overruns and finish on time.

If any other business had the "stellar" performance of defense contractors, they'd go bankrupt.


RE: Cost over runs
By SlyNine on 12/8/2011 1:55:31 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is the extreme. I agree their needs to be a better way. Part of the problem is the Airforce wants everything to be absolutely new and cutting edge. With that comes risk and extremely high costs.


The F-35 is no longer needed.
By jwflowersii on 12/7/2011 5:00:08 PM , Rating: 4
I'm a huge lover of military planes, but the reality of our times is that the F-35 is no longer a necessity and will probably be the last of a dying breed. With the limited loitering capability of supersonic aircraft in the types of conflicts we can expect in the future, other military hardware will accomplish the task. The most successful plane in the Iraq War was the A-10 because it could loiter and support the troops. We have cruise missiles and drones that accomplish surgical strikes that this airplane was designed for. We need to stop supporting companies and handing them these payouts.




RE: The F-35 is no longer needed.
By Nfarce on 12/7/2011 10:08:46 PM , Rating: 3
Judging the needs of the future based on the experiences of previous battles is myopic at best, and delusional and dangerous at worst. The global arena is too dynamic to make those kinds of judgements. The F-35 is both an A/G and A/A platform just like the F-16 and F-18 that have served nations for 30+ years.

While the US and allied nations have done plenty of air-to-ground over the last two decades of conflicts (including bombing Libya in 1986), we all have not gone air-to-air with another nation's air force since Gulf War I two decades ago. That day will come again, and we can't expect to know that drones flown by dudes drinking Red Bull a thousand miles away from the arena will win the day for us.


Total cost of the F35 program
By IBM650 on 12/7/2011 6:04:24 PM , Rating: 2
Estimated at over 1 Trillion. Includes training, etc




RE: Total cost of the F35 program
By Oakley516 on 12/8/2011 11:44:43 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a good deal for all the planes we'll have.


F-35 waste of US resources
By robpet on 12/8/2011 8:27:27 AM , Rating: 2
We just simply buy SU-35 and SU-37 from Russia. Much cheaper.
Already they take us to space so my as well give them our fighter business too. It will be pilot skills that determine any outcome of conflict anyway no matter what they plane is.




Wha?!
By ballist1x on 12/9/2011 6:35:15 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then no one would bother dealing with the government. We would have no one willing to take the risk.


No business would take on trillion dollar projects? Of course they would. They'd just have an incentive to stick to budget, wheras at the moment there doesnt seem to be a particular penalty, either on that order or on future bids.

For example if company X goes y% over budget, then it should effect their ability to bid for the next government contract or at least be scored negatively against them when the gov't weigh up the bids.

otherwise low balling and then winning a government contract becomes a licence to print money.




They should build more of these.
By Amiga500 on 12/7/11, Rating: -1
RE: They should build more of these.
By CharonPDX on 12/7/2011 3:36:02 PM , Rating: 2
Other than the minor issue that even with the cost overruns of the F-35 program, it still costs an order of magnitude less than the F-22.

They are designed for completely different roles, and among those, the STOVL is a REQUIREMENT that can't be hacked in to the F-22. (Yes, the proper term is STOVL: Short Take Off, Vertical Landing; even the Harrier doesn't do VTOL - Vertical Take Off & Landing - unless it's nearly completely unloaded.)

If you tried to modify the F-22 to meet the operational requirements needed from the F-35, it would be a lame duck jack of a few trades, while costing 10x as much.


RE: They should build more of these.
By 91TTZ on 12/7/2011 3:49:33 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Other than the minor issue that even with the cost overruns of the F-35 program, it still costs an order of magnitude less than the F-22.


Flyaway cost of F-22: $150 million
Flyaway cost of F-35A: $122 million

An order of magnitude is usually 10x, so as we can see the F-35A is not an order of magnitude less than the F-22.


By Reclaimer77 on 12/7/2011 6:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
Yes but we're not just talking the cost of the fighter alone. The F-35 program has gone zillions over it's estimates, while the F-22 was already payed for and ready for mass production.


By e36Jeff on 12/9/2011 5:48:17 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair, those are fy '09 vs fy '11 costs, so the F-22 is likely a bit more than $150M if we had the numbers for fy '11, inflation and whatnot taking its toll.
However, if we were to order, say an extra 100 F-22s and reduce the F-35 order by 100, that would drop the price of the F-22 by a signifigant amount, give us more interm fighters to cover the gap before the F-35 makes it into full production, and have a negligible impact on the final price of the F-35s.


RE: They should build more of these.
By amanojaku on 12/7/2011 7:51:23 PM , Rating: 2
The F-35 is more expensive, because it's actually a more advanced plane than the F-22. The bulk of the F-22's design was focused on stealth, speed, and agility. Those are largely the result of the shape, materials, and engines, which can have their costs optimized. This plane is built to scrap.

The F-35, which is less stealthy, quick, or agile. Yet, it's avionics package and weapon loading are far superior. Believe it or not, a 35 has an edge on the 22 in that it can jam the 22's radar. The 22 can sneak up and fly circles around the 35, but it's pretty useless if it can't target anything. And the 35 isn't meant to fly alone, so one of the planes in a squad will eventually take the 22 out. This plane was built for surgical strikes and defense.

One on one the 35 is f*cked in a battle with the 22, but it can easily defeat even the J-20, and possibly the T-50. The big issue with the 35 is that's it's too complex; the program is still unfinished. And it can still beat any plane that isn't ours. That's why other countries are buying it.


RE: They should build more of these.
By stburke on 12/7/2011 8:37:05 PM , Rating: 2
So why not have the F-22 adopt an avionics package developed for the F-35? If it has an advantage merely thanks to radar jamming, that's a fairly small hurdle to overcome given the F-22's larger nose and the adaptability of the air frame. It'd be great to have a superior a/c with an up to date avionics package.

But the two a/c have two entirely different missions too, where the F-22 is entirely air-to-air combat and the F-35 is everything else.

I do agree that the F-35 program, while ambitious, is unpolished and apparently the future of our air service.


RE: They should build more of these.
By amanojaku on 12/8/2011 10:38:12 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know enough about military aerospace engineering, but I assume the issue is cost and complexity. The avionics package isn't cheap, and the 22's computers would need to be updated, as well. The hardware is on par with the F-16 and later planes, but not at the level of the F-35. And the 22's software is written in Ada, while the F-35's is written in C++. Getting the 22 there would likely double the cost, and we all seem to forget the 22 was over budget, as well, which is one factor that led to its termination.

The F-22 has a 5th generation frame with a 4.5 generation computer.

The F-35 has a 4.75 generation frame (it's based on the F-22) with a 5th generation computer.

Realistically, had the 35 been on schedule it would have replaced a bunch of F-15's, 16's, 14's and 18's for a minimal increase in flyaway cost per unit. Maintenance and upgrade costs would have been lower, considering the initial order of ~2,500 units. The next generation of fighter would likely have built on the technology of both the F-22 and F-35, using the profits from 35 sales as funding. After all, the US makes a profit off of every 35 sold overseas.


RE: They should build more of these.
By 91TTZ on 12/8/2011 11:36:43 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Getting the 22 there would likely double the cost, and we all seem to forget the 22 was over budget, as well, which is one factor that led to its termination.


The F-22 may have been over budget a bit, but it's nothing like the F-35 program.

Most of the perceived cost increase of the F-22 was actually due to them lowering the number ordered, making the per unit cost seem higher than it really is.


RE: They should build more of these.
By 91TTZ on 12/8/2011 11:28:11 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The F-35, which is less stealthy, quick, or agile. Yet, it's avionics package and weapon loading are far superior. Believe it or not, a 35 has an edge on the 22 in that it can jam the 22's radar. The 22 can sneak up and fly circles around the 35, but it's pretty useless if it can't target anything. And the 35 isn't meant to fly alone, so one of the planes in a squad will eventually take the 22 out.


The F-22 is designed to prevent just that. It's an air superiority fighter and is designed to be able to see enemy aircraft before they can see it. It's designed to get a radar lock before they can. It's designed to dominate the skies, and an aircraft like the F-35 shouldn't be able to stand any chance against it.

If that's not the case, and Lockheed Martin's general purpose strike aircraft is able to achieve air superiority over their purpose built air superiority fighter, then they did something wrong.


By tpb3470 on 12/7/2011 3:38:34 PM , Rating: 4
I think your right. Lets scrap the F-22 and F-35 and start build an X-Wing fighter, maybe a Falcon or something really world class


RE: They should build more of these.
By 91TTZ on 12/7/2011 3:43:39 PM , Rating: 2
I agree somewhat. I think that the "cheaper, reduced capability" F-35 should be canceled since its price has risen to the point of the "expensive, full capability" F-22. It was originally supposed to be something like 1/3 to 1/2 the cost, and that low cost would have the additional benefit of increased commonality between versions meaning reduced supply-line overhead. Now it's something like 90% of the cost, and that applies to ALL the versions!

However, the VTOL and carrier variants can't be scrapped since the F-22 can't do those jobs. The carrier variant is replacing the F-18 and the VTOL variant is replacing the Harrier.

If they could have pulled it off and replaced 3 different fighter programs with 1 common fighter program, it would have been worth it. The F-16, Harrier, and F-18 would be replaced with the F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C, respectively. However, the cost has ballooned so much that it's no longer worth it. You could have paid for 3 simpler fighter programs that were specialized for their intended purpose instead of making an overly elaborate, jack of all trades that's meant to replace 3 inexpensive fighters. What we ended up with is an overpriced master of none.


By Solandri on 12/7/2011 4:35:30 PM , Rating: 2
At this point it's a white elephant. So rare that you can't get rid of it, but so big and expensive that keeping it is killing you.

The F-35 will become a case study in how trying to reduce costs by consolidating different products to share parts, can actually cause costs to increase.


By SunLord on 12/7/2011 6:27:46 PM , Rating: 2
At this point it probably would of been better to develop a F-22 variant with a larger bomb load out or spent time developing a stealth friendly pylon system that would blend into the F-22 given the price per plane would drop as we build more plus it would be a far more useful fighter for the air force.

We should of just built a dedicated VTOL F-35 for the Marines since the F-22 should of cleared the skies so all it would need to do is focus on stealth for facing ground based systems since it's most likely to be used for Ground support then anything sneaky where a B-2 and a F-22 would be the best options. Hell the F-18E is probably twice as stealthy as a Harrier.


By Ringold on 12/7/2011 3:44:45 PM , Rating: 2
If it were to be scrapped, I'd suggest instead giving up the whole manned fighter thing entirely. Go drone, save even more money, free up even more performance.


RE: They should build more of these.
By corduroygt on 12/7/2011 4:43:13 PM , Rating: 4
Only one problem, the F-35 is supposed to be our export fighter, unless you're suggesting we sell F-22 to other countries, too.


RE: They should build more of these.
By TSS on 12/8/2011 4:14:49 AM , Rating: 2
Damnit it's not a fighter. It's a fighter bomber.

The reason why your building 2 planes is because the F22 can carry 2 1000 pound JDAMs. the F35 can carry 8 2000 pound JDAMs. It's that simple. F22 for air superiority, F35 for support/direct bombing attacks, B-52's for long range bombers, missles for everything else.

You can sell the F22 to other nations, just do what you've always done with all other aircraft: strip it down, take out the most advanced systems and such, then sell it. What your left with is inferior to US equipment but still better then anything else out there.


By Reclaimer77 on 12/8/2011 9:46:14 AM , Rating: 1
We don't need a "stealth fighter bomber" anymore. The F-35 is a plane without a mission. Once we have air superiority thanks to the F-22, what do we need a stealthy next-gen fighter bomber for again? At that point anything will do the job of being a bomb truck, for a lot less money.

This jack of all trades mentality master of none is the ultimate folly of the F-35 program. Stop buying into it.


By NellyFromMA on 12/8/2011 9:22:26 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe I'm wrong (I'm sure I'll be downvoted as if I were) but I think they may actually want to see some ROI whether money-based or value-based for their investment at some point.

Scrapping it just seems like exactly the same irresponsible use of money most people have had enough of. It just makes no sense so far down the path it already is on. You don't scrap a project this far in.


RE: They should build more of these.
By danjw1 on 12/8/2011 12:32:21 PM , Rating: 2
That isn't an option. The F-22 isn't capable of flying off a carrier or operating in a VSTOL environment. The Navy and Marines need new airplanes too. The F-35 isn't as good at dog fighting as the F-22, but it has better ground attack capability. Arguably if you were to kill a program, it would be the F-22 not the F-35, since it is a multi-role aircraft and can fill and thus more capable.


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