Thursday, February 14, 2008

How the military thinks about costs and weapon systems.

This is summarized from an Aviation Week and Space Technology article published on Jan.14, 2008. No link is provided, as it is a subscription only site.

The Air Force has a large number of F-15’s that are in need of structural repairs. An F-15 from the Missouri Air National Guard crashed on November 2 of last year. It was found that some structural elements were unreliable due to manufacturing flaws back in the 1970’s. Nine other F-15’s have been found to have cracks in these suspect elements.

Now, here is the kicker. The Air Force doesn’t want to update their existing aircraft. It would cost them, and therefore, the Federal Government, about $260,000 per aircraft to bring them back into operational status. That fix would extend the operational lifetime of the aircraft for perhaps as much as 20 years. One letter writer calculated, given that 182 F-15’s are currently grounded, that would come to about $47.3 million to fix the grounded fleet. That seems much too expensive for the Air Force, right? So, their proposal is to never activate the F-15’s again and to replace them with all new Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors.

That sounds somewhat reasonable until someone tells you that the cost of a single F-22 is $339 million. That’s one single airplane, which is about seven times the amount to fix all 182 F-15’s.

Never let anyone tell you that President Eisenhower didn’t know what he was talking about with that whole “military industrial complex” thing.

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