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F-22 upgrade is over budget and behind schedule

F-35 operating costs will reach $1T
Officials think management will get the operating costs of the F-35 down

Any time the USAF or other branches of the armed service need a replacement for an aging aircraft, the cost of the development and maintenance are a huge budgetary issue for the military and lawmakers in Washington. Two of the most expensive weapons programs in the last several decades have been the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II.

The F-22 is due for an incremental upgrade to its hardware and software that some officials say is already behind on delivery and over its cost projections. The update in question is called Increment 3.2.

Air Force procurement Chief David Van Buren told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, "The Increment 3.2 that we're currently working on for the F-22 for our war-fighting customer is taking too long to implement. We are working with the company [Lockheed Martin] to try to speed that up and make it more affordable."

The cause of the delay in delivery stems from the programming language used called Ada. The Ada language was once a DoD standard, but the use of the language has waned in the last 15 years. Analyst Loren Thompson from the Lexington Institute said, "It tends to impede quick upgrades to the system to which it is the base software." Thompson also said, "The affordability of any upgrade becomes debatable when you purchase a relatively small number of upgrades."

The new upgrade is being applied to the 187 Raptors built by Lockheed, two of which have been lost to accidents. The upgrade will allow the F-22 to carry the AIM-9x infrared-guided air-to-air missile and the AIM 120D medium-range Air-to-Air missile and attack up to eight different targets with the 250-pound Small Diameter Bombs. Lockheed is looking for ways to reduce the cost of the upgrade right now.

The F-35 program is also again the center of focus on costs. This time lawmakers and military commanders are looking at the long-term costs of maintaining and operating the F-35 fleet. The Pentagon has estimated that the cost to operate the F-35 fighters through 2065 will be more than $1 trillion.

Procurement Chief Ashton Carter said, "Over the lifetime of this program, the decade or so, the per-aircraft cost of the 2,443 aircraft has doubled in real terms. That's what it's going to cost if we keep doing what we're doing. That's unacceptable. That's unaffordable."

However, he noted that the massive $1 trillion number can’t be taken at face value because management steps over the life of the aircraft will bring costs down. Carter said, "I truly believe that we can manage out a substantial number of the production and sustainment costs."

There has been technology sharing between the F-22 and the F-35 with some stealth coatings developed for the F-35 being applied to the older F-22 aircraft. The F-35 fleet was grounded in March when an in-flight failure of the generator aboard a test aircraft occurred.



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RE: 1 Trillion? Really?
By Gondor on 5/20/2011 12:10:15 PM , Rating: 1
Money spent US-made weapons and upgrades to these weapons does stay in country. A portion of it goes to manufacturing company's owners (as dividends), some of it returns to the tax stockpile, the rest goes to employees and cooperating companies where it is again divided in the same manner.

In a manner of speaking it is going for college education (via wages), roads (via taxes), etc. :) It's not as if they were dumping it into the ocean or giving it away.


RE: 1 Trillion? Really?
By Strunf on 5/20/11, Rating: 0
RE: 1 Trillion? Really?
By Solandri on 5/20/2011 5:23:27 PM , Rating: 3
No, actually, the DoD is required by law to and is very paranoid about making sure as much of the stuff that goes into their toys is manufactured in the U.S., outside of the meddling hands of foreigners. That's part of the reason why our defense budget is so high - military equipment is made using about 95% American parts and labor.

http://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/cpic/cp/docs/sec8306us...


RE: 1 Trillion? Really?
By inperfectdarkness on 5/20/2011 8:50:19 PM , Rating: 2
this. oh god yes, this. people always point to how little some countries spend on their respective militaries; all the while forgetting that most do not produce ANYTHING indigenous.

i'm sure we could fund defense cheaper if we bought only FSU stuff, or made our own using nothing but chinese parts. of course, if any of that was actually ever used in combat...we'd be in for a NASTY surprise. stuff not working like it's supposed to; repair/supplies being hamstrung because of political ideology; etc. no thanks.


RE: 1 Trillion? Really?
By Strunf on 5/21/2011 2:34:43 PM , Rating: 2
Funny cause the wikipedia on the F-35 clearly says that 15% of its parts could be made by the other countries that are part of the program since these countries can bid on part of subcontracts.


RE: 1 Trillion? Really?
By SPOOFE on 5/21/2011 9:36:12 PM , Rating: 2
And if you remember back when the F-35 program was kicking in to high gear, that 15% was one of the bigger talking points about the plane... because it was such a departure from the norm.


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