Is the F-35 a better value than the F-22?

What gives you better bang for the buck: the F-22 or the F-35?

The answer will of course depend on the evolution of the F-35′s price tag, so is probably unknowable for several more years.

But I’m glad that didn’t stop Captain J. Michael Stelly, who has recently published his master’s thesis for the Air Force Institute of Technology. The thesis is entitled “Price versus Performance: The Value of Next Generation Fighter Aircraft“.

Assuming the F-35′s price tag remains constant, he concludes the JSF is by far the more cost-effective purchase.

He claims that the F-35 shares every major weapons capability with the F-22 with one exception — super-cruise, which is usually defined as the ability to fly faster than Mach 1 without afterburners. According to Stelly’s models, this feature carries a relative value of $68 million per each F-22, making its somewhat slower rival a better overall affordable solution.

I’m not sure I completely follow this line of reasoning, but I think it’s a worthy debate to have, and I’m glad Stelly has filled the factual vaccum with some empirical data to work with.


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