F-22s forever?

Andrea Shalal-Esa, of Reuters, quotes Jim McAleese today saying that the US Air Force will delay KC-X and CSAR-X in order to pay for 60 more F-22s.


Jim McAleese, a consultant with close ties to the Air Force,said the service was counting on receiving $10 billion in additional funding aspart of an expected $57 billion increase in the Pentagon’s overall base budgetfor fiscal 2010 that begins Oct. 1 next year.

Work on a fleet of new refueling tankers, which the AirForce had named as its No. 1 acquisition priority, is expected to be delayedfor at least a year. The Pentagon decided in September to redo the heatedcompetition between Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp, which teamed up with Europe‘s EADS.

The No. 2 priority program, a $15 billion drive to buy new combatsearch and rescue helicopters, has also been delayed as the Air Forcereviews competing bids from Boeing, Lockheed and Sikorsky Aircraft, aunit of United Technologies Corp.

As a result, funding for both programs would likely remain underthe ‘research and development’ heading for a while longer, letting theAir Force use its limited procurement dollars for more F-22s, McAleesesaid.

McAleese also says that the USAF will be content to buy 60 more F-22s, which would reduce their roughly eight-year-old requirement from 381 to 243.

I strongly doubt that the USAF will ever be so content. When the time comes to close production on the F-22 line in another three years, I expect to see another huge fight.



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11 Responses to F-22s forever?

  1. EG 19 December, 2008 at 9:56 pm #

    Well, who can blame them. This a safe purchase. No other company can contest it.

    Course, after ya’ run out of gas they won’t be able to send someone in to pick you up.

    Unless we build the KF-22B. Just think, using old F-117 tech we can build a faceted refueling boom. R & D should be fairly low.

  2. BJ 20 December, 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    EG,

    Go one better – KB-2 with one of your booms on each wing ;-)

  3. Prometheus 21 December, 2008 at 3:27 pm #

    Came on!
    The AF is just traying to d the mission ever AF has done since day 1 and that is Air superiority.
    To hell with those UAVs. The army should get organic heavy firepower so they can fight people armed with AK-47 and RPG.
    But what do they do, instead? Call in a plane, doesnt matter what kind of to dumb a bomb on the terrorist.
    The false army Procurement is the problem!
    Let the AF get 600 Raptors and cut the JSF-A to 800.

  4. Royce 21 December, 2008 at 4:35 pm #

    Keeping the F-22 line open a few more years creates a bridge to F-35 full production that will keep LM’s skilled workforce in place. The USAF won’t be able to afford F-22 and full F-35 production at the same time.

  5. Dave 21 December, 2008 at 7:48 pm #

    I won’t beleive it until I see the contracts awarded… the USAF might want more Raptor and be willing to pay for them with the CSAR and KC-X, I somehow doubt the OSD will be quite so thrilled about it.

  6. EG 22 December, 2008 at 6:44 pm #

    Royce,
    I think you just hit on it. Except they are assembled in different locales.
    How much F-22 manufacturing takes place in Fort Worth?

  7. Royce 22 December, 2008 at 8:38 pm #

    EG,

    That’s a good question. The F-22 is assembled in Marietta, and I don’t know what happens with the workers on that line after F-22 production ends. Do they make components for the F-35 or are just let go? Don’t know the answer.

  8. Stephen Trimble 22 December, 2008 at 8:51 pm #

    I can give you a pretty good read on what they would do with the F-22 production workers. Lockheed Martin is projecting a huge production ramp-up for C-130J over the next few years. C-5M RERP enters FRP in 2010 as well, I believe. So there are opportunities to offload work from F-22 to the airlift programs in Marietta.

  9. Mike 23 December, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    This is a worthwhile read:

    Lexington Institute
    F-22 Fighter: Good for the Economy?
    Loren B. Thompson, Ph.D.

    http://lexingtoninstitute.org/1356.shtml

    This will give you the flavor of his argument:

    “The logical place to start in crafting a more sensible approach is to agree that the government should not be buying weapons just to stimulate the economy. Weapons programs should always be justified mainly on their operational and fiscal merits, meaning they must satisfy valid military requirements in a cost-effective manner. The F-22 meets that standard, because it will guarantee global air dominance for the next 30 years — arguably the single most important requirement for winning future wars. There is another fighter in development called the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that only costs half as much, but that plane lacks the speed, maneuverability and fuel-efficiency to provide as effective a deterrent. The two planes were designed to operate together, however the Air Force says it needs more F-22s to do the job.”

  10. Stephen Trimble 23 December, 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    I like Loren, and I never dismiss what he has to say. But you also have to take his comments with a grain of salt. I know he’s a paid consultant to Lockheed (because he’s told me), and he is paid to present their corporate messaging to the public as a “neutral third-party”, which is of course a contradiction and conflict of interest. So just bear that in mind.

  11. Dave 24 December, 2008 at 8:22 am #

    Me too, Loren has gone out of his way to help me out a couple of times.

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