April 22, 2016

US Armed Services studying restart of F-22 stealth fighter production

Production of the Lockheed Martin F22 Raptor stealth fighter jet was stopped in 2011 because it was considered too expensive. There have not been any controversies about the combat capabilities of the F-22. This is unlike the F-35 which is expensive and where requirements for a US Marine version with vertical takeoff capability made a badly compromised overall design.

The US House Armed Services Committee included a provision to study potentially restarting production of the F-22 aircraft.

They are estimated costs to restart F-22 production, including the estimated cost of reconstituting the F-22 production line, and the time required to achieve low-rate production; the estimated cost of procuring another 194 F-22 aircraft to meet the requirement for 381 aircraft; and the estimated cost of procuring sufficient F-22 aircraft to meet other requirements or inventory levels that the Secretary may deem necessary to support the National Security Strategy and address emerging threats

In April 2006, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessed the F-22's cost to be $361 million per aircraft, with $28 billion invested in development and testing; the Unit Procurement Cost was estimated at $178 million in 2006, based on a production run of 181 aircraft. It was estimated by the end of production, $34 billion will have been spent on procurement, resulting in a total program cost of $62 billion, around $339 million per aircraft. The incremental cost for an additional F-22 was estimated at about $138 million in 2009. The GAO stated the estimated cost was $412 million per aircraft in 2012

The F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation fighter that is considered fourth generation in stealth aircraft technology by the USAF.[108] It is the first operational aircraft to combine supercruise, supermaneuverability, stealth, and sensor fusion in a single weapons platform.[109] The Raptor has clipped delta wings with a reverse sweep on the rear, four empennage surfaces, and a retractable tricycle landing gear. Flight control surfaces include leading and trailing-edge flaps, ailerons, rudders on the canted vertical stabilizers, and all-moving horizontal tails; these surfaces also serve as speed brakes.

The aircraft's dual Pratt and Whitney F119-PW-100 afterburning turbofan engines are closely spaced and incorporate pitch-axis thrust vectoring nozzles with a range of ±20 degrees; each engine has maximum thrust in the 35,000 lbf (156 kN) class. The F-22's thrust to weight ratio in typical combat configuration is nearly at unity in maximum military power and 1.25 in full afterburner. Maximum speed without external stores is estimated to be Mach 1.82 during supercruise and greater than Mach 2 with afterburners.

The F-22 is among only a few aircraft that can supercruise, or sustain supersonic flight without using fuel-inefficient afterburners; it can intercept targets which subsonic aircraft would lack the speed to pursue and an afterburner-dependent aircraft would lack the fuel to reach. The Raptor's high operating altitude is also a significant tactical advantage over prior fighters.

SOURCES - House.gov, Wikipedia

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