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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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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.


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