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F-22 Raptor Cancelled 829

Posted by timothy
from the waiter-there's-a-fly-in-my-fighter dept.
BayaWeaver writes "Slate reports that the F-22 Raptor has been cancelled by the Senate. At an estimated price tag of $339 million per aircraft, even the powerful military-industrial-congressional complex couldn't keep this Cold War program alive in these hard times. They look very cool though and have appeared in movies like Hulk and Transformers. But not to worry too much about the future of the military-industrial-congressional complex: the F-35 Lightning II begins production next year! As a side note, in 2007 a squadron of Raptors became deaf, dumb and blind when they flew over the International Date Line."
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F-22 Raptor Cancelled

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  • Poor Title (Score:5, Informative)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:28PM (#28785231)

    Reading the title and summary would make you think that the entire program has been cancelled and the planes aren't going to be used by the US military. This is not the case. The Senate reduced the number of aircraft being produced such that no additional planes will be made. The F22 is already in service and will remain in service for quite some time.

    • Re:Poor Title (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kamokazi (1080091) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:34PM (#28785321)
      The cost is also a little misleading. Additional units cost ~$130M each (which is still expensive as hell), the $339M figure is total program cost plus build cost divided out per aicraft. That number only decreases the more we produce. So if we ordered another singe aircraft, it would not cost $339M.
      • by Reason58 (775044) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:39PM (#28785401)

        The cost is also a little misleading. Additional units cost ~$130M each (which is still expensive as hell), the $339M figure is total program cost plus build cost divided out per aicraft. That number only decreases the more we produce. So if we ordered another singe aircraft, it would not cost $339M.

        If that is the case then why don't we keep building them until they are free? As a bonus, we will have an unstoppable Air Force. Oh wait, we already did before the F-22.

        • Re:Poor Title (Score:5, Informative)

          by bjdevil66 (583941) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:12PM (#28785895)

          The per unit cost is so high because, unlike past US-built fighters and the upcoming F-35, it is illegal to build an F-22 and sell it to another country, per Congressional mandate. Because there are no other customers available besides the US, and because the US has enough of them (for now), there's no way to take advantage of the economies of scale that could be brought to bear with continued production.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by lwsimon (724555)

          Ever heard of a limit equation? The total cost of an individual airframe will decrease infinitely closer to the manufacturing cost, and the number of unit increases to infinity.

          Are you the CEO of GM by chance? That sounds like their "sell cars at a loss, and make it up in volume" plan.

        • Re:Poor Title (Score:4, Informative)

          by Rolgar (556636) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:54PM (#28786543)

          The other three fighter craft available to the USAF were commissioned in 1976 (F-15), 1978 (F-16), and 1988 (F-15E). I know that the F-15 (I assume it's the 1970s units) have been exhibiting structural failures that have cost the loss of several craft and the grounding of all units a couple of times in recent years. It would be pretty easy for a foreign power (Russia and China) to have a modern aircraft that can out perform something we designed and built 30+ years ago. Basically those three craft all need to be phased out in the next 10 years, leaving us with the F-22 (clearly superior to anything anybody else has), and the F-35 (which will be available to multiple countries, and therefore not superior), as well as the unmanned aircraft. The F-22 out-rates the F-35 by every metric, even though it will be 6 years older.

          Anyway, the GP didn't claim that creating more would make the new craft free. But the billions spent to develop the F-22 can't be recouped. What's important is, going forward, is whether it's better to buy 2 F-22s, or 3 F-35s. Consider, with better planes, your pilot can cover more ground, which makes it less difficult to find the pilots necessary to man the aircraft in question, which means you have to find and train more pilots to man the extra planes, and extra planes will also require extra ground crew mechanics and engineers to maintain the planes.

          If it's me, I would always choose to build more of the superior plane as long as the extra cost isn't too high, and I don't consider the extra cost to be too different in this case.

    • Re:Poor Title (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Absolut187 (816431) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:40PM (#28785403) Homepage

      I heard a story about this on NPR yesterday.

      We've already paid for 187 of them.

      Also, the $300-odd million figure does not include maintenance.
      According to the NPR source, maintenance on the F-22 is vastly more expensive than on an F-15 or F16.

      Apparently, we are buying a couple thousand F-35s anyway, which is - again NPR - "only slightly less capable, but far less expensive".

      • by flitty (981864) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:28PM (#28786139)
        Also, an interesting point from that conversation (IIRC), was that The computer in the F22 is unhackable because It's based on 1989 IBM code, and most modern military jamming/hacking equipment doesn't know how to obstruct code that old.
      • Re:Poor Title (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hey! (33014) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @03:24PM (#28787009) Homepage Journal

        Actually, it's an apples and oranges comparison.

        The F-22 is a no-compromises air superiority fighter. Engineers will immediately understand this means plenty of compromises in other roles you want fighter aircraft to perform. It's built to do one thing: destroy aircraft. It's useless against ground targets, and adapting it to his role would be silly given that we'll be building the cheaper, more versatile and hopefully more reliable F-35.

        If the F-22 is ever called on to do what it was built for, it will be worth every penny of its $300+ million dollar price tag -- up to a point. I've heard it called a "first day of the war fighter". It's job is to clear the skies of all hostile aircraft, after which the F-35 follows up and performs a wide variety of war fighting tasks. If this scenario works the way it is supposed to, then at some point adding more F-22s is pointless. Imagine enemy fighters are plaque and the F-22 is a toothbrush. Brushing your teeth for ten minutes is very good for you; brushing for twenty minutes isn't any better for and costs twice as much.

        The F-22 is a one trick pony, but it's a pretty damn good trick if you ever need it done. But we simply don't need that many of them if it works. If it doesn't work, then it's a big waste of money to build more.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:48PM (#28785515)

      The F-22 is a cool plane, but there are only so many the US really needs. Reason is that they are not carrier based planes, which is how a great many missions are done these days. It also is more or less strictly air superiority, not multi-role. Ok well there is value in that, while there may not be any current threats to the US, doesn't mean there won't be. You don't have good defense, in the real world or on your computer, by staying complacent. However that doesn't mean that there is the need or reason to roll out tons of the things.

      The F-35 is more suited to a larger scale production because it is multi-role, and carrier capable. Thus with it likely to come out soon (next year if they remain on target) it doesn't make sense to produce a ton of F-22As. The F-35 also has the advantage of having a good deal of support from other nations, which helps pay for R&D and will also bring unit costs down in the form of increased orders.

      So it makes sense to keep the F-22 around for when top-notch air defense is needed, it doesn't make sense to keep building them if an all around more useful plane is going to be coming out. Use what is complete, and use the research from the project on other projects (like the F-35).

    • Re:Poor Title (Score:4, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:52PM (#28785571)

      Reading the title and summary would make you think that the entire program has been cancelled and the planes aren't going to be used by the US military. This is not the case. The Senate reduced the number of aircraft being produced such that no additional planes will be made.

      And even that may be a bit misleading; the Senate eliminated funding for 7 additional F-22s that were proposed to be ordered, limiting the total run to 187, which includes not just planes which have already been delivered but also some that have previously been ordered which have not yet been delivered, so it is not the case that "no additional planes will be made", at least if by "additional" one means "additional to those that have already been made", rather than "additional to the ones already planned to be made".

  • by potscott (539666) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:32PM (#28785291)
    They've already got 187 of them. All they did was cancel an order for an additional 12 that were budgetted last year. The summary would lead you to believe they're moth-balling all of them or something. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-22_Raptor [wikipedia.org]
  • by Duradin (1261418) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:35PM (#28785341)

    With the way the gov't is throwing money I'm surprised anything under a billion registers on their radar. They've probably got rounding errors (intentional or not) that could pay for a whole squadron of these.

  • by loteck (533317) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:45PM (#28785455) Homepage

    How bad-ass? This badass [youtube.com]. The link is to a YouTube video where the guy who had the initial design ideas talks about getting the plane together, and the video features some awesome footage of the F-35's capabilities.

    RIP F-22, you were cool and did a great job. The F-35 is a worthy replacement.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sycodon (149926)

      The F-35 was not designed as a replacement, but as a compliment to the F-22.

      The F-22 has one mission, dominate the airspace and kill other fighters. As the video probably shows, the F-35 is designed as a multi-role/configuration fighter. And yes, it is bad ass. It is very cheap (inexpensive) and is a good asset.

      But watch out, as I said earlier, the Russians are still build fighters and they are pretty good at it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      The F-35 isn't really a raptor replacement, it is a supplement. The F-22 is still likely to be the best air superiority fighter. However, that is really all it is good for. It is land based only, and not really suited for multi-role operations. It CAN be fitted to do bombing but not near as well as the F-35.

      So what is likely to happen is the F-22 will remain active in air defense roles, whereas the F-35 will become the principal aircraft used for strike missions. However, you really don't need so many air-d

  • by plopez (54068) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:51PM (#28785561) Journal

    they have problems communicating with other planes:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/09/AR2009070903020_4.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2009071001019 [washingtonpost.com]

    and don't seem to like the rain:

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_07/019076.php [washingtonmonthly.com]

    among other things like jammed canopies.

    And it's funny too. People who don't like unions, bloated government and stimulus packages seem to think the government owes them a job when it comes to flawed weapons systems and unneeded military bases.

    But it's nice to see A10s and B52s still in service. Made dack when the US actually knew how to build something.

    • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @04:29PM (#28788179) Homepage

      But it's nice to see A10s and B52s still in service. Made dack when the US actually knew how to build something.

      The A-10 has been upgraded multiple times, it's hardly the same aircraft that rolled off the production lines in the 70's.
       
      The B-52's have been upgraded and modified so many times, we've paid for each individual aircraft probably ten times over. So much of the original structure and systems have been replaced that the only original item on them is probably the nameplate.

  • by CompressedAir (682597) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:53PM (#28785597)

    The F-22 is already in service! They just cancelled the next order of planes.

    I agree with this decision. The F-35 is still a better fighter than just about anything else out there, and is also an excellent multi-role attack craft. Not to mention much cheaper per unit than an F-22.

    The value of the F-22 lies in that it is probably the best fighter in the world for many years. Any adversary who intends to fight a conventional war against the US (cricket... cricket... but hey, we do expect our military to be prepared, so I'm not complaining) has to act as if the most badass fighter in the world will be contesting air superiority. That is a healthy kick towards solving things with diplomacy.

  • by thered2001 (1257950) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:54PM (#28785613) Journal
    They're built here in Marietta. Bad news in a tough economy.
  • by Lester67 (218549) <ratels72082@@@mypacks...net> on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:54PM (#28785619)

    We can give them 4 billion dollars and have aircraft to show for it, or give them 4 billion in bailout money to save the jobs this will impact and have NOTHING to show for it. :-)

  • Remote Drones (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Herkum01 (592704) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:01PM (#28785729)

    Fighters are needed less and less now a days, if we want air superiority we can just put up dozens of cheap drones with Air-to-Air missiles with remote pilots. I am pretty sure they would not cost $100+ millions each either.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LeDopore (898286)

      Right on. If your metric is (military power)/(cost) then these planes would have to be *extremely* deadly for them to make more sense than drones.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Herkum01 (592704)

        Not only that but,

        1. Your not risky the life of a pilot who can take hundreds of hours to train properly
        2. A modern plane can do more than a pilot can physically handle so are better vehicles without a pilot
        3. Don't require a full scale airport or carrier to land/launch from. Landing on an aircraft carrier is one of the most difficult tasks a pilot has to accomplish regularly. A drone can be launched from a small ship and who cares if it lands intact again.
  • by jjackalb (574662) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:02PM (#28785739)
    If you look at when they actually are producing F35 vs F22 at nearly identical production rates, F22 is only a little bit more expensive. The main reason why F35 is projected to be significantly cheaper is they are planning on producing more of them at faster rates.

    F-35 Flyaway Unit Cost
    FY2011: $124.580 million (24 per year)

    F-22 Flyaway Unit Cost
    FY2007: $136.826 million (20 per year)

    A bird in the hand is better than 2 in the bush. I'd bet F35 ends up costing just as much as F22.

    Give me more F22s and fewer F35s.
  • by mdvolm (68424) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:03PM (#28785745) Homepage

    Since the interest alone on the "Economic Stimulus" package is costing the U.S. around $100 million per DAY, I can see how saving 17 days worth of interest will definitely have a major impact.

  • Good riddence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:10PM (#28785861)

    These programs have become unsustainable. There's no reason for the F-22 to cost what it does. We're talking about runaway projects with padding to line the pockets of the military-industrial complex. This isn't about protecting the nation, this is about extracting wealth from the treasury. Defense contractors are doing more to harm the safety and security of this country than the long-haired hippies ever did.

    The F-15 is still a world-beater. Why not just upgrade the avionics and fire up the assembly lines again? Retire the old airframes, field new ones.

  • i'm cool with it (Score:3, Informative)

    by AP31R0N (723649) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:30PM (#28786153)

    My vote as a former USAF intel analyst is that this is a good move. We have plenty of them already and we can put that money to use in myriad other ways, for defense and other purposes. The 22 is bad ass and worth every penny, but i'd rather see more spent on HumInt or humanitarian stuff.

  • Cost vs Return (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BulletMagnet (600525) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:43PM (#28786361)

    The pricetag on all this fancy military hardware goes up to beyond reasonable returns. We're losing the war to Al-Queda where their costs are nearly nothing (I suppose sending a fundamentalist nutjob to suicide bomber school is rather cheap) and the 2 Billion dollar bomber (The B-2 Spirit) crashes in 2008 in Guam on the way to fight him. As a taxpayer I think we need to say enough is enough and I think Congress is seeing the light. As far as I'm concerned, "slightly less capable, and far less expensive" is the exact tact we need to take as a country in the midst of a crippling recession.

    Until Al-Queda grows an Air Force what's wrong with our fleet of 80's movie aircraft (the F-15, F-16, etc) The Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore. North Korea? What are they flying these days? MIG 29S's (their few but modern units - which match to the F-15) and MIG 21's (a Vietnam era unit)

    I dunno, but didn't the Nazis lose with the current "Overengineering, exepensive and too few versus" principle the US is using today to the "Just barely good enough, cheap and lots of them" principle we had in WWII? The Tiger vs the Sherman?

    We lost our way.

  • it's wartime (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fishbowl (7759) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:48PM (#28786439)

    During war time, there should be no profit driven motivation for developing the military, period.

    War industry employees should all work for subsistence wages, and really should be volunteers if not draftees. Industrial business should not even be allowed to take profits for the duration of war. If they must be paid, they should be paid in interest bearing war bonds that are redeemable upon victory. Take away the profit-driven parts of the equation, from raw materials down to workers being paid more than subsistence wages, and I'm sure the cost of these airplanes will be considerably lower per unit.

    The stakes should be "winning the war so that the nation can continue to exist", not something that's even measurable in monetary value.

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