News F-22 Raptor: Do we need more?

1. Feb 26, 2009

Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/manufacturing/2009-02-25-lockheed-martin-raptor_N.htm

While I do firmly believe in maintaining a strong military force, I found it somewhat amusing to hear one objection to limiting production of the Raptors - jobs. This from the same folks who object to government spending for jobs creation.

We need what we need, but the days of weapons as welfare must end. We have been raped long enough by the defense industry.

Last edited: Feb 26, 2009
2. Feb 26, 2009

misgfool

Air superiority determines the winner of major conflicts. What are the US war goals in the coming decade or two? If there is a major conflict approaching, then the spending might be sensible. If the US is fighting cave dwellers, then Raptors seem a bit overkill and not suited for such purpose. But lets not forget the broken window fallacy.

3. Feb 26, 2009

turbo

I hope Obama makes the right choice. The US is an asymmetrical threat - we already have so much military hardware that we are headed down the same road the Soviets took - spending ourselves in to collapse. We need to save jobs, but not jobs that are dependent on runaway spending on weapons that we don't need. We need jobs that enrich our lives, create durable wealth, and recover our ability to manufacture goods. We have let manufacturers move those capabilities overseas to the cheapest labor markets they can find, and that loss is a bigger threat to our national security than most people recognize.

4. Feb 26, 2009

mgb_phys

Yet another area where the US lags behind europe

In the 80s europe started a project to build an air superiority fighter to counter the east German airforce MIGs.
Before the first prototype flew the berlin wall came down and the East German airforce became the 'German' airforce - but a little detail like that didn't discourage them.
Then by the second gulf war the plane wasn't actually ready - but that was solved by simply declaring the production line at BAe to be a temporary RAF base, thus the unfinished airframes were all in RAF service (had the Iraqis invaded the BAe factory).

The third slice of the procurement is now due - but nobody can afford them (the simple f16 clone somehow amazingly ended up costing many times as much as first thought).
The German airforce solved the problem by selling the old MIGs that the aircraft was going to fight, the RAF has simply cut the number of pilots and will mothball all the aircraft on delivery.

For afghanistan there is a hope that the 3rd version can be fitted with "austere ground attack capability" this consists of the pilots looking out of the window and pulling a string which will release bombs when they see the target.

http://pro.corbis.com/images/NA007595.jpg?size=67&uid={a9927d44-42bb-4d76-b43f-60b9cb184267}

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
5. Feb 26, 2009

Staff: Mentor

It is fairly safe to say there will be no such war for the forseeable future and as a result, an extremely expensive, pure air superiority fighter is not the best way to spend defense dollars. Less money for Raptors and more money for drones is what is most needed right now.

6. Feb 26, 2009

Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
China recently demonstrated that they could shoot down a satellite. It has been suggested that this was effectively the first shot in a new cold-war.

7. Feb 26, 2009

WhoWee

Let's hope Obama (and Panetta) listen to their most knowledgeable advisers before participating in a final decision.

8. Feb 26, 2009

Staff: Mentor

Ok.....so what does that have to do with this thread?

9. Feb 26, 2009

Cyrus

Originally, the F-22 was only supposed to cost ~$50 million per aircraft in 1990 dollars. ompare this to an F-14 or F-18 which run at about$35 million, the price isnt bad. The problem is that the number of orders for the F-22 got slashed and slashed. The upfront money needed to build such an aircraft is very high, so the only way to make your money out of it is to buy A LOT of airplanes. The fewer airplanes we buy, the MORE expesiver per unit cost each one becomes.

In addition, many of the aircraft we have are old. The KC135 tanker is really just an old boeing 707. The B-52 is nearly 50 years old. The F-14 tomcasts are retired, and the AH-53PAVLOW is also gone (A helicopter). The army also has a bunch of old Kiowa helicopters it wants to replace.

Other countries are now starting to make stealth aircraft, particularly Japan. So there is a need to have the best stealth technology out there. The problem boils down to too much government oversight during these projects which causes delays and cost over run. Thanks uncle sam!

10. Feb 27, 2009

mplayer

Have you seen how cool these things look? Of course we should buy them.

But seriously, I guess the answer might depend on how well it replaces currently used air superiority fighters and how long its lifetime might be. If the Raptor is equivalent to a dozen or so fighters that are currently used, it might be a good buy. I'm not quite sure when autonomous aircraft will entirely replace manned fighters but it may be a couple decades away, and having the Raptors may help bridge the gap. Then again, diverting resources could stall development of unmanned aircraft, which is surely the future of the air force in my opinion. This will be one of the last manned warplanes produced by the United States.

11. Feb 27, 2009

Supercritical

I think it's easier to justify spending for the F-22 if you do a fact check on the "military-industrial complex" hype.

A couple facts:

-If the US budget were broken down the same way it was during Eisenhower's terms (remember his famous speech?), with 50-70% spent toward defense, today's baseline defense budget (before supplemental spending like Iraq, Afghanistan, atomic energy, intelligence, etc.) would be in the range of $1.5-$2.2 trillion (50-70% of the 3.1 trillion FY 2009 budget)
On that point:
http://img355.imageshack.us/img355/6082/91532579rz5.png [Broken]
http://img338.imageshack.us/img338/9127/37336966pq6.png [Broken]

-In terms of constant dollars, from 1954 to 2006 the baseline defense budget grew 41% while total spending ballooned 400% and the GDP increased 447%

That percentage change is tracked http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/7246/53131500ox1.png [Broken].

*The information is available from the http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy09/pdf/hist.pdf [Broken] on the GPO website if anyone wants to check the numbers.

In summary, defense spending is higher today than it was in 1954, even when adjusted for inflation. Defense spending as a percentage of the budget and of GDP, however, has gradually tapered off, implying that the US has not deemed it necessary to scale its military linearly with its budget, or with its economy.

Regarding the F-22, I claim that the Philippine insurgencies from the early 20th century are good examples: the United States was involved in a serious air war (WWI) shortly after that conflict, and was found to be lacking. Likewise, the proliferation of advanced Russian fighter designs (Su-27 derivatives and Mig-29 updates) mean potential foes possess airframes equal or superior to the F-15s the F-22 would replace. Further, any weapons the US military requires for war need to be in-hand on day one. There will be no option to restart assembly lines to produce those weapons, due to the lack of the time component in modern warfare. It is regrettable that each new F-22 would cost ~$140 million, but it is worth every dime, and with defense outlays getting "crowded out" by other spending (see above), it would not be a shameful investment. Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017 12. Feb 27, 2009 Ivan Seeking Staff Emeritus You said "it is fairly safe to say there will be no such war for the forseeable future". I think that is an unjustified assumption. China may be the new threat to be addressed. And Russia has assumed a fairly aggressive posture recently. 13. Feb 27, 2009 Ivan Seeking Staff Emeritus It wasn't hype. The first objecton mentioned in today's report is that the F22 means jobs. We shouldn't build weapons for the sake of jobs. Instead we should build things like infrastructure. Did we and the Soviets really need tens of thousands of nukes each? Of course not. Last edited: Feb 27, 2009 14. Feb 27, 2009 Ivan Seeking Staff Emeritus Here is what a former five-star general and US President had to say about the military industrial complex. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NSBBRtY 15. Feb 27, 2009 Phrak He's following the formula along party lines; predictively selective of nonproductive waste. Should we-the-people be comforted by SOP? Last edited: Feb 27, 2009 16. Feb 27, 2009 WhoWee We have become very entangled with China...buying their goods, selling them our debt, investing in their factories...all transactions have not been smooth...a financial meltdown could lead to an armed conflict. Consider this...how long do you think the world will continue to buy our debt...especially knowing we're using it to improve the comfort levels of our poor (and that we can't repay)? Eventually, someone is going to tell us to get on our knees. 17. Feb 27, 2009 Jimmy Snyder The proper response to a potential enemy's stealth technology is not better stealth technology of your own, it's better detection technology. 18. Feb 27, 2009 mheslep That's reasonable for the traditional battle strategy of offense and defense (like a football game), but not so much for the less commonly known modern one, where the idea is to never sit on defense attempting to detect attack. Instead, one continually attempts to manoeuvre and stay on offense, a loop which if done fast enough eventually disorients the enemy decision process. This paradigm is particularly applicable to air to air combat. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_Loop 19. Feb 27, 2009 turbo Just a small detail: For Japanese stealth fighters to be of any danger to the US mainland, they would have to be shepherded over the Pacific by a pretty sizable fleet of air-refueling tankers, or be brought into strike-range by aircraft carriers. Neither of those operations are particularly "stealthy" and we already have practical responses to deal with either scenario. There may be some viable military justification for dumping more money into the F-22 program, but keeping up with other countries' spending on stealth technology isn't one of them. 20. Feb 27, 2009 mheslep Agreed, no more planes. The aircraft provides some great capabilities, in particular its stealth properties make it an important first strike weapon - go in ahead and attack the surface to air system so that the mass attacks can follow. As such, the US doesn't need thousands of these aircraft. The baseline order is 183, and at$143m/aircraft that's plenty.

Far and away the biggest champions of increasing the F-22 order are Boeing's blue state legislators such as Washington's Sen. Patty Murray(D). The 'Boeing' congressional delegation is second only to Michigan's 'GM/Chrysler/Ford' Dingle led delegation for screaming how loudly the rest of the country owes jobs to their industries. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga), of the Marietta, Ga Lockheed delegation, is also near the front of the line for defense jobs.
Contrast Congress with with DoD leadership - in particular Sec. Gates and his predecessors who have consistently resisted more F-22s.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123490303268502611.html

Regarding the age of the current aircraft, there are two separate problems - age of the inventory and age of the design. There have been half a dozen upgrade programs to the F-16 over the years, with the latest buy delivered as recently as '02-'04. The US can continue to do this for decades at ~low cost. In fact the USAF needs to be pushed to do upgrades; in my opinion they've been stalling in favor of the the new plane. The airframe designs are old, but in conjunction w/ a smaller number of F-22s they're good enough to do the job for years to come. I count only 11 US fighter aircraft lost to hostile action in the month's long air attack 1st gulf war involving tens of thousands of sorties, and I venture than only half of those were avoidable given improvements found in the F-22.
http://128.121.102.226/aaloss.html
http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/f-16.htm

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017