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Feb 18, 2005



the f-22 puts us ahead of every single country for a long time and gaurantees ememy killing ratios that would dominate against the f-15 plus a almost 100% survivabiltiy rate for the pilot.


"The WHOLE point is that the reason we can only buy 180 F-22s (if that many)is because EACH PLANE IS SO DAMN EXPENSIVE! THAT is why the program will bankrupt us, and we could buy far more air superiority by upgrading 4 times as many F-15s and F-16s. Some of these posters are living in a world where there is no limit to how much we can spend on each weapons system -- but that is not the real world."

You simply don't have a grasp of what you're talking about. 1. R&D dollars have ALREADY been spent and cutting the program numbers isn't going to get them back. 2. When you read a typical news outlet like CNN they take total program cost and divide it by the numbers likely to be built. Thus when the numbers get cut the cost appears to increase. The REALITY is that the cost to MAKE an F-22 is coming down and is NOTHING like the quoted cost your average newspaper quotes because they add in the already spent R&D dollars. Which means you will no way, no how be able to buy four or even two brand new F-15s for the cost of one F-22. And new is what you'd need because as many seem to either not realize or intentionally ignore, upgrading a worn out aircraft still leaves you with a worn out aircraft. All the new electronics and engines in the world aren't going to do you any good if your basic airframe is worn out. You can take a car from the 70s that has 200,000 hard miles on it and slap a new coat of paint on it and a new car stereo and you're still left with a car that is ready for the scrap heap. Airframes aren't good for an infinite amount of flight hours. You have to remember these F-22s are expected to last at LEAST 30 years. There's just no way your're going to get 30 MORE years out of an airframe that is almost out of hours. And just to save the time of the inevitable quotes about the B-52, bomber airframes don't endure the stress fighters do. It's like the difference between freeway miles in a car and four-wheeling.

Alex David

The WHOLE point is that the reason we can only buy 180 F-22s (if that many)is because EACH PLANE IS SO DAMN EXPENSIVE! THAT is why the program will bankrupt us, and we could buy far more air superiority by upgrading 4 times as many F-15s and F-16s. Some of these posters are living in a world where there is no limit to how much we can spend on each weapons system -- but that is not the real world.


Do you manly men keep commenting on this post because the dude in the picture is just so awesomely handsome?

"Third. "We're only buying 180 so why bother since the Russians would swarm them?" That statement is so uninformed it barely merits a response. I think it's fair to say that every potential foe in the world takes the F-117 VERY seriously and there are only 50- odd of those and they're twenty years old and subsonic to boot. In Desert Storm of 1990-91 we only had 96 F-15Cs in Iraq and most of those never even saw combat. While the full 381 would be better 180 can still make life difficult for the other guy."

Iraq in 1991 with its 2 squadrons of MiG-29A's was a joke even then. It may have been the fourth largest army in the world, but its kit even in 1991 was 15 years behind the latest the eastern block had to offer. Saddams entire army barely had the combat power of 1 soviet guards army. The M1 armed with the M829A1 round can kill a T-72G out to 8km's!!! but past 2km's it would do no real damage to the T-72BM or the T-80U. It would take todays M829A2 and A3 rounds to pose a threat to the latest the Russian are offering and we know from US tests, reported on in Janes back in 1997, that the A2 would do NOTHING to the T-90S if it hit the K5 blocks on the the T-90's frontal turret.

The Russian do not fear 180 airframes because they dont have just 2 squadrons of MiG-29's but almost 400 fulcrums, almost 400 Flankers, and almost 400 MiG-31's. Even if only half their machines and only half their pilots are worth a grain of salt they will be fine. Plus, there are enough targets in Russia that even if all those F/a-22's actually had a air-to-ground role it would take them a decade to do the sort of damage US airstrikes did to Iraq infrastructure. It is a vastly more developed and simply larger country. 180 birds would be a pinprick.

Let also not forget that high wavelength, low power search radars see stealth aircraft from thousands of miles away. The problem is they are search radars, they are not capable of tracking, locking or engaging, they are HUGE, expensive and only give you the general location of an incoming, but they see EVERYTHING larger than a golf ball. The Russkies would see our stealth coming and they would fire their nukes before it ever got there.

Stealth is a weapon best reserved for fighting third worlders who dont have the sort of giant radar installation the US and Russia use mostly for spotting missile launches. Also lets remember that every F-117 gets an ECM escort and the one time we failed to provice the F-117 with an ECM escort it got shot down over Serbia! Against an oponent who has his own modern ECM capabilities a lot of our stealth advantage disapears. The Typhoon and Rafale rely heavily on a new generation of ECM pods for their "stealth."

I question the validity of those kill numbers the EU provided. For one they gave the Rafale a 1:1 kill ratio against the Su-35. The Su-35 is the flanker they compared everything to and in some key ways the MKI became a better fighter than the original Su-35, so thats another issue, but the Rafale has supercruise and more stealth than the Flanker so I dont buy for a second the 1:1 ratio unless the R-77 is somehow vastly better than what the French are fielding.

The biggest problem for the Russkies is the Su-27S's they are fielding are not capable of carrying the R-77 and need upgrading to SM standard badly. They plan on upgrading only a dozen a year which is not sufficient and the SM upgrade doesnt include the BARS radar which the Russian view as a failure because no missile can take advantage of its 300km range and its a mechanical array. Fasotron at MAK-2001 did show a protoype AESA dispaly piece and the latest radar for the S-300 is a stationary array as is Skywatch on the Kuznetsov so only a fool would argue that the Russian cant build an AESA.


While I have in the past often been on the side of Pogo (mostly even if not fully), the issue of the Raptor has gone so far over the cliff that I'm beginning to rethink my past support and faith in presentation. That we're now considering as few as 180 airframes - even debating whether we'll get that many - is jaw-dropping, it's mortifying, it's mind-numbing.

And that anyone wants to _cancel_ the thing entirely ... the arguments for the plane have been made many times, including in the comments on this article. It is COMPLETELY unreal that this issue has become so short-sighted. There are no planes now that could compete with the Raptor? And the Russians might have trouble manufacturing a competitor? And so this is why we should kill off a multi-decade process that has been all but completed?

Really, I know I'm not being particularly eloquent here - and that's precisely because I am so completely dumbfounded over all of this. The need for the Raptor - and in well greater numbers than what are currently on the chopping block - is so patently obvious to me that I just don't know what else needs to be said that hasn't already.


There are a couple more issues I'd like to comment on:

1..."What can we sacrifice to afford the F-22"

2..."The F-22 is 80's technology so it should be no surprise that others have caught up".

3..."We're only buying 180 so why bother since the Russians would swarm them?"

As for the first, "what can we sacrifice to afford the F-22", how about 450 F-22s for starters? The original requirement was for 750 to replace the F-15s. That got chopped WAY back because it was too expensive. It was down to 277, now 180, but the USAF maintains it needs 381. (do a google for "f-22 381" for the whys and wherefores). How about five HUNDRED F-35s? The USAF volunteered to cut the number of F-35s by 500 just to restore the 277 number of F-22s. Really think about that. The USAF would trade five HUNDRED brand new F-35s for less than one hundred more F-22s. That alone should tell you how good the aircraft is. LEst you say "well we don't need an airplane THAT good" tell that to the pilot's wife who's husband died because we were too cheap to give him the best we could. If your life is on the line why WOULDN'T you want the best equipment you could get?

Since R&D costs are fixed *no matter how many you build* the fewer you build the more expensive they become. For example say it costs Intel $100 million to develope the Pentium 5. IF they only sell two they'll have to charge $50 million a piece just to break even. That's why the B-2 came in at something like $2.2 BILLION a piece. They were going to buy 132 and then stopped at 21. So the reason the unit cost of the F-22 keeps climbing is because the numbers to be bought keep getting chopped. The actual cost to MAKE one F-22 is coming down all the time which leads me to my next point on cost. Many military programs are prime examples of how to buy things the expensive way. Why is that? Because the "schedule" changes from year to year which makes it impossible to do any long term planning. Programs get cut back AND stretched out which makes costs go higher still and the worst abuse happens on the big ticket items. How much does each Seawolf cost? Billions. How much does a Burke cost? About a billion. In reality they are probably about the same to build but we only bought three Seawolfs so they cost much more per unit.

Another thing to consider is true cost. What are you getting for your money? In testing for the Typhoon it was determined to have about a 4.5 to 1 expected kill ratio against late model Flankers. The F-22 was something like 10 to 1 and the F-15 was about 0.8 to 1. In at least one actual wargame they had FIVE F-15s against one F-22 and the F-15s lost. They never even detected the F-22. So you can't just go strictly by the sticker price. An F-15 isn't going to be able to operate in an area where air defenses are still active without escorts to take care of the defenses. You have to buy those aircraft too. And their fuel, and pay for their maintanance, and pilots, etc etc.

Second. "The F-22 is 80's technology so it should be no surprise that others have caught up" who's caught up? The Rafale and Typhoon both started BEFORE the F-22 and they're nowhere near the F-22. The Russians certainly haven't "caught up" and the Chinese are working on catching up with our LAST generation. A fighter has to be looked at in it's entirety. One could say the F-35's electronics will be newer than the F-22's and it's true. COMPUTERS have advanced rapidly (Moore's law and all) but they're the exception. We're not all driving Ferrari's that cost five bucks and get a thousand miles to the gallon because cars aren't computers. And neither are fighter aircraft. From a performance and stealth standpoint the F-35 is actually inferior to the F-22. It's engine isn't designed for the same part of the flight envelope, it doesn't have vectoring thrust, it isn't anywhere NEAR as fast nor will it be able to manuever as well. The latest F-15s are arguably as good as the latest Flankers (sure it can't do a Cobra but it would eat a Flanker's lunch in the portion of the flight envelope that most combat actually occurs) but you don't win battles by trading one for one. Regardless of WHEN the ATF program actually began there is nothing in the air or likely to be in the next 20 years that can touch it.

Third. "We're only buying 180 so why bother since the Russians would swarm them?" That statement is so uninformed it barely merits a response. I think it's fair to say that every potential foe in the world takes the F-117 VERY seriously and there are only 50- odd of those and they're twenty years old and subsonic to boot. In Desert Storm of 1990-91 we only had 96 F-15Cs in Iraq and most of those never even saw combat. While the full 381 would be better 180 can still make life difficult for the other guy.

There are many things to keep in mind when dicussing what will be our premier fighter. 1. It's got to be the best for probably forty years or so. 2. It's got to be reliable enough to keep as many in the air as possible. We won't be able to buy the kind of numbers we have in the past so EVERY airframe will count. 3. We can't plan to fight today's war. Yes we're doing a lot of ground pounding these days but it's mainly because Iraq's airforce was completely destroyed. There are two likely hotspots in the coming fifty years and one of them is China. And China is an ENTIRELY different class of foe. 4. These days you fight "come as you are". If our F-15s are getting their butts kicked and that's all we have then we're just SOL. You can't say "time out while be build better aircraft".

honestly the biggest problem with the F/A-22 program as I see it is that if we procure only 180 we had better be determined on procurring scores of JSF's because 180 birds against any major power is a pin-prick, I dont care how capable it is, unless each bird is carrying 25 Aim-120's the Russkies will just swarm it and wait for it to run out of missiles.

Do you think the Russians or the Chinese are losing sleep over 180 airframes?


As someone who stops by from time to time at the POGO Cafe to lurk on this blog it is refreshing to see the in-depth dialogue that recently has been very civil. While I happen to be on POGO's side on the F-22, they are a little pro-nuke if you ask me and I'd like to see them list a weapon they do like, I appreciate and enjoy folks posting respectful comments.

P.S. I'd also like to see some of you F-22 advocates post some comments on defense programs that you would cut to pay for this plane and the costs to iron out all the kinks. We're over $200 Billion into Iraq and the Administration bristles every time someone mentions exit strategy. Meanwhile, Iran, Syria and N. Korea (am I forgetting anyone?)appear to be the next threat that must be dealt with and that's going to set us back a wee bit more. Since when did the Democrats become the voice of fiscal responsiblity and the Republicans lose all reason about the federal budget?


Those are some interesting points raised and are valid..i would just like to add that at this stage we have a top notch fighter that stands DEVELOPED and is really close to being activly deployed..cancelling it now would mean we would face the same problem of ageing fighter fleat and less capable fighters in 10 years time and would have to then restart a new ATF sort of program..we have a world beater developed and almost fully tested..i'd go over it any day...costs are comming down and production is going up..the AF and the pilots love it..As a tazpayer that is all i car about.

to be fair to the Indians the F-15's were not flying against Su-30MKI's but against plain old K varients so they to were not fielding their best anymore than we were. MKI isnt even the lastest Flanker varient anymore, the M3 (which largely improves on the MKI's air-to-ground capability, but there are some minor air-to-air improvements as well) was revealed a few months ago.


There are several misconceptions that people need to lose if they're ever going to be able to make rational decisions about the F-22.

1. "It's a weapon designed for the Cold War and the Cold War is over so we don't need it".

2. "The Indians beat our F-15s so we need it."

3. "We have ruled the skys the last X amount of years so we don't need it."

In answer to #1: It was designed with several goals in mind. First it was designed to better the Flanker and Fulcrum. It was decided that to rely on increased manueverability was a losing proposition because the ROI would be minimal. While the F-22's manueverability is in the league of those two aircraft and better in many respects it is not relying on it. Secondly it was designed to operate in enemy territory. You don't want to be dogifghting over your own territory. You want to kill the enemy before he has a chance to deploy his weapons and to do that you have to do it over enemy territory. The enemy tends to have a LOT of SAMs which is why the F-22 is a stealth aircraft. One might say we dealt with Saddam's defenses easily enough butSaddam's newest SAM was from the Vietnam era. The SA-10/12/S-300/400 families are lightyears ahead of those early SAMs. Unless one intends to supply a Weasel escort (more planes and more $$$) to every mission you need a stealth aircraft.

To say "the Russians cancelled the Mig-1.42 and S-37 Berkut" so we don't need the F-22 is to ignore the fact that the F-22 was never designed with those aircraft in mind in the first place. They were the Russian's attempt at an answer TO the F-22A. At the time the F-22 was designed there were notions of what the next generation of Soviet fighters would perform like so they made the F-22A as good as they could within reason. Had either or both of those aircraft been deployed the F-22 would have handled them just fine based on assessments of the prototypes (which granted isn't perfect but the best you could get with the available info). So the bottom line with regards to #1 is that it was designed to defeat high performance aircraft over enemy territory. Period. The fact that it's gestation began during the Cold War is completely irrelevant. In fact the Flanker and Fulcrum have been exported by the hundreds to countries that are FAR from being our friends. A confrontation with China over Taiwan WILL happen it's just a matter of time and they already have hundreds of Flankers with more on the way.

In answer to #2: Yes the Indian Flankers beat our F-15s. Here's the problem with sensational news items of any sort. The "sensation" gets the big headlines but when the truth comes out it's on page E-99 in two-point type. The truth is the Indians wanted to fight the exercise with the Americans down at 3 to 1 odds. In other words it was THREE Indian aircraft for every American F-15. Secondly they said the US couldn't used active radar homing on it's AIM-120s. (If you don't know what that means you shouldn't even be commenting on the F-22 because you probably don't know what you're talking about) and thirdly they weren't using AESA radars. Granted there are only 18 F-15s in existence with AESAs but they ARE our best. So yes if you remove the tires from a Ferrari Enzo you can beat it in a race with a bicycle but it's essentially meaningless.

In answer to #3: Yes we have pretty much ruled the skys with the -teen series of fighters but it needs to be put in context. First we haven't faced an airforce in combat who actually KNEW what they were doing and were trained to fight. Second we've never fought against the Flanker. Third we've never fought against someone with CURRENT air defenses. And fourthly we've never fought someone at a numerical disadvantage. We've always outnumbered by FAR the adversary. But while true, all of this is merely window dressing. The fact of the matter is aircraft do not have infinitely long lifetimes. The F-15s are wearing out. They were not designed to be flown so hard for so long and even if they'd been flown at the rates anticipated when it was designed they'd still be reaching the end of their lifetimes. How many people here have cars that have been driven daily since 1974? The bottom line is this: Should we INTENTIONALLY put our people at a disadvantage? Why SHOULDN'T we give them every advantage we can? If they lose it's not "well bummer better luck next time". There is no "next time" for them because they're dead. Our entire way of fighting depends on us controlling the skys. If we don't it's not just a matter of us losing a few pilots, it propagates out to influence the entire military effort. As for the F-35 it's designed for ground attack as it's primary mission. It will never be able to touch the F-22 and late model Flankers in air to air combat.

While I applaud POGO's motives (fighting waste) I find the consistant lack of objectivity and research appalling. If anything POGO should be fighting Rumsfeld's idea of stretching and slashing production of the F-22. It truly is in a league of it's own.

the F/A-22 is in many respects late 80's early 90's technology because of bureaucratic delays the jet is VERY VERY late entering service. It should be no surprise that others have taken this time to catch up. People ignore Russian aerospace but if certain US firms were half as well managed as Irkut the US aerospace sector would be in much better shape and not losing commercial sales to Airbus.

yawn, the MiG-1.42 prototype flew as far back as 1997 and lets not forget the Su-47 demonstrator. We see elements of stealth in the Su-34 bomber and in the yak-130 trainer. Fasotron as far back as 2003 said that it had half the chips it needed for an AESA radar. The Russians can field a fifth gen quicker than many people think, all the elements for one are in development or already in existence, including engines that would allow it to supercruise. With Chinese and Indian cash infusions and 5.7 billion in annual arms exports and growing domestic defense expenditures the Russkies are not in bad shape.

Lets also not forget the Chinese J-12 and J-13 programs, the Eurofighter and the French Rafale all of which already surpass or will surpass the venerable F-15 and lets not forget the latest varients of the Su-30 which are without question superior airframes, the only question mark is their electronics and the old R-77 v. AIM-120C debate.

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