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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: Ada
By Jedi2155 on 5/21/2011 5:34:38 AM , Rating: 2
There are a number of modern languages that are still based on the constructs of Ada. VHDL is an example of a more common language was highly influenced by Ada.

As I live in an area where defense probably employs 1/4 to 1/2 of the engineers around, I heard Ada referenced everywhere from my community college instructors to the university level. Based on the length of typical defense projects I don't see it dying anytime soon.


RE: Ada
By JW.C on 5/21/2011 5:56:57 PM , Rating: 1
Which is a shame, because it really does need to die a very quick death. Using ADA these days is sort of like using quick basic. Yes you can get the job done, but you feel like hiding from your friends afterwards.


RE: Ada
By alexisfar on 5/21/2011 7:39:00 PM , Rating: 4
Ok, you are a completely ignorant. Please, don´t comment on topics that you don´t know.
Ada is much better language for critical and embedded systems than Java, .NET, C/C++ or any other mainstream programming language. Also, the cost of this kind of software is not because the programming language (any good engineer can learn any language in a couple of weeks), the cost is because the required quality that this kind of software needs to achieve. So, even if you use Java (that is crap for this kind of software) you will end with the same or higher costs, and probably you will end with more bugs. Please, make you a favor and don´t comment about something that you know nothing, you looks like idiot.


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