At Wednesday‘s Congressional hearing, Pentagon acquisition chief John Young let slip an interesting detail about the US Air Force’s upgrade plans for the F-22.
The USAF plans to develop two distinct versions of the F-22 with “significant differences in capability between them”.
I knew that two major upgrades — Increment 3.1 and 3.2 — were comingdown the road for the F-22. But I didn’t know that the USAF can onlyafford to upgrade 80 jets with the latter increment.
Increment 3.1 adds the long-awaited ground radar mapping mode and enters production next year.
Increment 3.2 adds the multifunction advanced data link, the AIM-9X and the AIM-120D.
The combined bill for both upgrades amounts to $8.3 billion, or about $44 million per aircraft.
Here’s Young’s statement:
I think there have been some comments today with raisingconcerns about the department’s support for F-22. It may be a finer degree of detail. You’re dealing with a very appropriate andhigh- level picture.
But the department was on a path in the ’09 budget to have100 Increment 2 and Increment 3.1 jets, and then a smaller fleet of about 803.2 jets — significant differences in capability.
To get more jets to the full Increment 3.2 capability, tomake them full-up rounds, $6.3 billion of R&D is requested to go back intoF-22 and approve that architecture and back-fit all those jets. This department has tentatively put that inthe POM 10 budget to make that F-22 fleet that we have and have bought capable.
Young doesn’t mention that there’s also another major upgrade — Increment 3.3 — a bit further down the spiral acquisition trail. I believe this is the version that would include an electronic attack capability. I wonder how many jets are being lined up for this upgrade?