F-22 Mission Rate “Troubling;” Faces Huge Upgrade Costs

F-22 Mission Rate “Troubling;” Faces Huge Upgrade Costs

What would cost $8 billion, has a mission capable rate that is a “troubling” 62 percent and “is proving very expensive to operate?” The answer: 100 upgraded F-22s.

John Young, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, offered those statistics at breakfast this morning in an apparent effort to explain just why the Defense Department does not want to buy more than the currently projected number of 183 F-22s.

Young piled on, saying the plane “still does not meet most of its KPPs (Key Performance Parameters).” But it’s not just pure operational shortcomings that have Young worried. “The airplane is proving very expensive to operate.. and it is complex to maintain.”

Of the $8 billion to upgrade the planes, Young said $6.3 billion would be research and development “for a plane that is already in production.”

While he did not expand on the issue, Young also raised one potentially very troubling factor, noting that the F-22 program is “struggling” with its low observable capabilities and “other issues.” Young may have been referring to corrosion problems that reportedly affect the plane’s stealthiness.

A congressional aide who supports buying more F-22s reacted to Young’s comments with a certain understatement: “Yep, the F-22 is the only DoD program we’ve ever had problems with in not meeting expectations…”

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Can’t ANYONE, ANYONE, in the Air Force make a good decision anymore? The pathetic ABU uniform, Tanker X, CSAR X, lost nukes (disbanding SAC while still having strategic missles), etc, etc. What the HELL goes on in the Pentagon these days?

Medicjohn…simply put…NO

Funny how all the new expensive equipment is less reliable and capable than the equipment it replaces. The Russian’s made the more sensible design decision of making a capable jet that works and doesn’t break the bank.

this is a case of buying it before it’s ready.
there used to be stories about the USAF building up a base with high quality facilities compared to other services but running out of money before the runways were built.
Had to go back to congress to get more funding.
Probably just legend but you can easily see how that kind of thinking would allow congressmen whose districts employ the folks who have a part in building this system would likely be voting for it before it was ready just to ensure it was on the street thus making it too costly to cancel.

Excellent book available on line through Air University Press: Rise of the Fighter Pilot Generals. These FPAVTECs (fighter pilot aviation technicians) have taken over the Air Force. They are not trained for the non-flying jobs they get at Colonels and Generals. It is really sad.

The F-22 is a super capable aircraft. The problem is that the USAF continues to lets the pilots act like little boys wanting a new toy. They don’t take maintenance and pain in the butt factor and continue to say, “that can be mitigated”.…blah, blah, blah!

I think 183 planes is enough. Figure in the JSF and how much money is that? Is it going to help us defeat the T-ban/AQ in A-stan? The Defense Contractors continue to take the taxpayers for a ride. Upgrades for the F-15 and 16 should be more affordable, and these aircraft are proven.

It’s is a sad shame that the US Air Force can’t (or maybe won’t) get the bugs worked out of the F-22 Raptor. When the time that our country needs the ‘cutting edge’ in the sky’s to protect our nation and interests we have a (too) expensive fighter jet with a 62 percent mission rate. That’s unsat!!!

Don’t be surprised that the incoming President-elect Obama will cap the Raptor program to 183 aircraft and NO $8 billion upgrades!

Here’s the groups to be blamed: US Air Force top brass and Lockheed-Martin! With billions spent for 183 aircraft and yet more billions needed to upgrade the F-22 is enough for me!

Money should be spent to keep the Boeing F-15D/E Eagle line open to purchase additional aircraft for the Air Force.

Mark Twain once said, there are three kinds of lies; lies, dam? lies, and statistics.

Mission Capable rate is just another one of those. Under today’s budget constraints of the two-front war, 62% peacetime (home-station) MC rate is far from a surprise. We’ve operated other complex weapons systems at this rate in times past as well.…. and when the balloon goes up and it’s game time, some of our most complex weapons systems perform outstandingly…i.e. B-1B, 50–60% homefront MC rate; combat rate 90%+. B-2, same story.
Anyone who thinks this is a one dimensional arguement about MC rate doesn’t understand the 10 pounds of mission the USAF is managing with their 5 pound sack.
Oh, anyone here think we ONLY have Al Queda to worry about? If so then yes, a bunch more F-15s would be just fine. Take a look at what China and Russia are fielding for new aircraft. Fair fights are only cool in movies.….we’ve kicked butt for the last 20 years because of air supremacy.….don’t ever give that up; or be prepared for history to be repeated.

Whether the F-22 is required to counter current & future national threat scenerios is debatable, but using the MC Rate without further decomposition and analysis to justify killing additional production & modernization is simply ludicrous. All it takes to relegate the best weapon systems to a lousy MC rate is supply chain deficiencies, undertraining and over staffing of organic USAF maintenance organizations, poorly executed organic depot maintenance, egotistical/systematic elimination of OEM field support/tech reps, unfunded reliability growth program, operational abuse outside the design envelope, or simply lousy maintenance data entry and analysis. Check 6 o’clock on this one — may not need anymore F22s — but may not have anything to do with maintenance/cost per flying hour.
USAF is notorious for inflating cost of ownership of high tech systems by pretending it actually knows best how to maintain them with a highly inefficent indigenous maintenance infrastucture.

We are “…destroying ourselves from within” and just in the nick of time comes the Obamaniacs Dem team to finish off the job with budget cuts, delays and a final cancellation of the program altogether I suppose. How about 18 aircraft?

How in the world can aircraft already in service have such issues and cost overages so soon based on upgrades? Deteriorating airworthiness/stealth capabilities due to corrosion? Corrosion??? Certainly the USAF jests here? This aircraft “still does not meet most of its KPPs?” Then why is this aircraft on line? Better to keep F-15D/E models current based on past performance records.

It’s time to haul Lockheed-Martin before the congress to explain; but this time actually hold someone accountable. The same should be done with top brass who assisted Lockheed-Martin in this debacle. Hold all involved in this accountable and set an example of what happens when fools are given the keys to the nations security chest.

Way to lead in the air supremacy world. With such a sad commentary we might as well stick with farming subsidies and leave it at that. Sad indeed. And to think our enemies have the same capabilities to read this as we do. Unbelievable. Way to go government. Way to go. I am beyond flabbergasted at the mere thought of how the F-35 JSF program is fairing!

FYI, the D model is the 2 seat version of the C model. The E model is the multi-mission 2 seat version.

I do agree the JSF is a disaster waiting to happen.



The Navy has already determined the JFS is a sitting duck and has purchased additional F/A-18E/F Hornets as a bridge and possible a permanent replacement for JFS.

It has been rumored the top brass of the Navy does not want the JFS. They see the JSF as sitting duck that will cost billions more to purchase, evaluate, operate, upgrade, modernize, and support, etc. before deploying on its twelve super carriers.

The Navy is very pleased with the capabilities of the F/A-18E/F Hornets and really don’t want to bring in another aircraft that they really don’t want to support or deploy. The JFS and F-22 aircraft may sound good on paper but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty that’s where the buck stops and reality is apparent.

Don’t be surprised when President-elect Obama takes office in January that the F-22 and F-35 JSF program will be capped-off and/or canceled altogether. The new administration may want to pursue existing, reliable, and more affordable aircraft such as F/A-18E/F/G, F-15D/E, C-17A, CH-60L, AH-64D, C-47E, AH-1Z, and UCAV.

For example, for every one F-22A the navy can purchase four F/A-18E Hornets. Think about it! It’s is no surprise that the US Air Force has NOT deployed the F-22 Raptors to the Middleast in support of the troops. With a mission capable rate of 60 percent, high operational costs, and maintenance & logistical support problems it is NO surprise the US Air Force won’t deploy its 100+ F-22 Raptors overseas! If the Raptors were deployed and needed in an emergency they Air Force would have to depend on it’s 35 year-old, combat proven, and dependable F-15 Eagles!

When the Obama administration comes in the chopping block will be part of his daily signature response to support national health care, wealth distribution, socialization of the economy, and any other left-wing anti-American policies and spending programs that will be created.

Remember, there is NO one to blame but those greedy companies and top-brass in the US Air Force that will lead to the destruction of the US Military.

When the United States needs cutting edge technology to maintain our edge in the skies against our current enemies and future threats (for example, China and Russia). Our fly boys will have outdated technology thanks to the greedy companies that will need a billions for bailouts and top military brass retiring with big fat pensions and a top paying jobs waiting for them.

That’s a sad shame!

we need to keep,the defense of this country strong and a step ahead of our adversarys if not what???

Ian G,

No, the USN has NOT determined that the F-35 is a sitting duck, in fact quite the opposite. It HAS determined that the F-35 is SIGNIFICANTLY more effective than the F/A-18E/F Block II & better than any hypothetical F/A-18E/F Block III could be. AND once it reaches full rate production will be LESS expensive than the F/A-18E/F.

The only reason why the USN is even considering procuring more F/A-18E/F is to fill the gap left by F/A-18C/Ds retiring EARLY due to being overworked & when the F-35C will be available in sufficient numbers.

I don’t know what kind of wet dream you are having that you can buy four F/A-18E/F the price of one F-22. The TRUTH is that for the price of three F/A-18E/F you can buy two F-22.

The USAF hasn’t deplyed F-22’s to the Middle East because Gates won’t let it do so. And he won’t because he KNOWS that it would prove itself & he simply can not have that.

I have been discouraged from the beginning of the Raptors (F-22), even put into service.. The Pentegon and it’s cronnies have “POLITICALY ” purchased another lemon… The lobby has once again struct… The F-15 C/D/E, and the F-18’s are far more versitile… The raptors limited weapons, maintenance history, and stelth program is a farce also..I could write a book on the beginnig of this flying farce…ask the boys in Washington to tell honesty on how the F-22 vs F-23 fly offs fared…The real winner was the F-23 on many fronts that count in combat…


i think you and i have debated this 100 times.

you need to prove to me that the F-35 will be cheaper once it reaches full rate production. that would mean that a non stealthy 4.5 gen aircraft is more expensive than a stealthy, supposedly technologically superior 5th gen aircraft. in fact nobody knows how much over the course of production these aircraft will average out at. not even the dod.

the jsf is only superior with regards to stealth and sensors over the F-18E/F.

The F-35C will be superior to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in about any category you could name! As for price let’s not forget the Lightning will be produced in the thousands not the hundreds like the Super Hornet.

DC2 Jennings,

LM & the DOD have PUBLICALLY & OFFICIALLY announced that the flyaway cost for the F-35A IS 58.7 million. If you check the yearly defense budgets you will see that the F/A-18E/F is & has been ~50% MORE than that.

The F-35C will certainly be $5–10 more than the F-35A but even at ~$70 for the F-35C, the F/A-18E/F is ~1/4 MORE expensive.

And as Scott pointed out, the F-35 will be superior to the F/A-18E/F in pretty much ANY way you can think of.

pfcem, heh we found something we agree on. Why don’t folks like the F-35, particularly since so many allies will own it, too?
“the jsf is only superior with regards to stealth and sensors over the F-18E/F“
That’s like saying a football team is only superior because it has a better offense and defense. What else matters if they carry comparable payloads? How is the F-18 superior to the F-35?

Shouldn’t the U.S. have at least one cutting edge fighter in production to keep the industry afloat?

Mission of the Navy: Project sea power
Mission of the Army: Project land power
Mission of the Marine Corps: Project sea and land power
Mission of the Air Farce: Spend as much tax dollars on crap that doesn’t work and don’t use it during war because the pilots might mess-up their hair or break a nail and would interupt their golf games.

Sad we’re not seeing the days when the manufacturer footed the R&D bill, built the aircraft, THEN took it to the Generals & Congress and said “What do you think?” (Then, and only then, were changes made).
Sad to think that my tax dollars are used to 1st R&D the theory, then build it, then purchase it only to find out it doesn’t measure up to initial expectations. If I did that in my job, I’d be looking for work.

Some of the problem is that brilliant people are developing it, brave people are flying them, but complete idiots are buying and selling them. The stealth makes it invisible, but also prevents missle lock. Problem is, that an enemy’s “stealth” aircraft when fighing our stealth aircraft given missles are useless, will ultimately end up in a good old fashion dog fight. Air superiority therefore determined by the speed and manuverability of the aircraft…With a pilot inside, plane can only go accelerate so fast, and pull a limited amount of G’s, an unmanned craft without those limitations (pilot) would have a substantial advantage…
As stealth develops, so does radar…the papadigm continues

The entire tooling and building system for the f-16 is now in the middle east somewhere making planes for someone else.…

ANyone see the Japanese Prototype??

The aide’s “cute” statement is why our acquisition is what it is. Program failure is the norm so why should we expect any better? I wish you’d have told us who he was an aide to so we could better understand the last ditch F-22 support.

I did not vote for Obama but I hope that Sec Gates’next step will be to replace Mr. England with someone who equally understands and can focus on acquisition. Mr. Young is off to a fair start in pulling weeds.

The F-22 Raptor is by all measure breaking new ground. I am sure it employs new technologies that will need time to perfect. The F-22 is now going through it’s own “teething” phase. Give it a chance people. I would be willing to bet money the F-15 Eagle went through a similar phase right after it went into service and look at how it turned out. I say go ahead and sell Raptors to our most trusted allies (the Israeli’s want to buy Raptors right now!). Keep making Raptors! It keeps Americans at work too!

Gremlin, the days of RAD money being on the corporations dime are over at congress’ request (demand). They want simple math on cost accounting and will not allow the common commercial practice that you long for. The method was again challenged recently on the C-130J program where Lockheed ventured ahead of the military and developed the J model and wrapped the RAD money into the unit cost. Again, the accounting method was painstakingly reversed by Senator McCain in 2007. The process, and in fact products that we are discussing here are exactly what Capitol Hill makes of them.

So who did you vote for?

good combination men an machine wow…

I would like to see the Air Force get it’s collective act together and put the Boeing X-45 into the air as an air superiority fighter (maybe even accompanied by a stealthy, manned “mother ship”). That will be hard to do since they killed it in 2006. Will the “Fighter Mafia” ever grow up? Oh, and B-1s and B-2s: they are being used as tactical bombers– not deep penetration SAC aircraft. That’s a lot of dollars flying overhead doing what an airworthy B-52 can do just as easily. We’re running low on dollars and I don’t see great Chinese or Russian jumps in fighter technology. Unmanned fighter aircraft are what we “need”.

Gremlin is right. Give me R & D $$ and I will show you bad product after bad product.

MC rate is a mix of poor performance in system and operational effects:

Operational effects: opstempo, how the thing is operated on missions, how the things are maintained in the field, resources deployed to the operating site, etc.

System effects outside the direct support site that effect MC: inherent reliability, maintainability of the end item and components, quality manufacture of components, quality and quantity of supplies, supply chain/logistics, sources of supply and repair, a few more mundane things like under funding repair processes and then not acquiring the skills, data and tools.

The operations effects drive the planning and specs for the system effects. If things to deliver the operations effects were unfunded/reprogrammed because of overruns, then the MC rate problem is likely the dividends received for “savings” on an airplane that does not meet it “suitability” requirements.

F 22 MC rate is likely better than the materiel availability rate which tracks the entire fleet of F 22 and includes all the airplane hard broke at depot and off the units’ assigned airplanes.

I disagree with Timmerman, however, GAO has observed that contractor PBL’s are too expensive and not performing.


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