Saturday, May 28, 2016

What IF The F-22 Inventory Grows

The what-ifs are tossed about as Generation 4.5 F-22 resurgence appears on the horizon. The F-22 could impact the F-35 and it should not become a reality until the F-35 reaches IOC or has proven its fifth generation status in actual world time duties. The F-22, became a much beleaguered program so much that Lockheed Martin were only allowed to build 187 of its type during the first decade of the 21st century. However, things happen such as ISIS, Iraq and all things terrible in the world and the F-22 had a real world shake down.

It proved to be a real fighter, and so much better than a 4.0 fighters, the Air Force wants another (at least) 200 F-22 in its inventory. It’s truly a remarkable aircraft as it covers the battle field with two engines and can benefit from the F-35 development. The F-35 and F-22 have a symbiotic relationship. Everything learned on the F-35 program may transfer to the F-22 standing inventory. The Air Force would like to increase its standing F-22 force as the world's most capable fighter in its time slot. The F-35 can give the F-22 some of its highly developed and secret capabilities. The F-22 is very fast with two engines and has Gen 4.5 stealth capability. It’s a blue collar fighter with all the bells and whistles that any adversary regrets meeting in air space. It can out fly China, Russia and any other nations most advanced fighter. 

The F-22 will give the F-35 more time in the tinkering shop to make it whole. If the F-35 is a fifty year airplane, then its concurrency has fallen behind its fifty year objectives through its slow maturation into service. The F-22 can cover for F-35 as a wing man would in aerial combat. It can give much needed cover for F-35 maturation process working out "all" its kinks. A decision needs to be made in 2016 whether or not to restart the F-22 production. 

If or when any production starts, it will transfer a cost to the F-35 program through the number of its own units built. It was once conceived that 3,000 F-35's would be built during its life cycle. That unit number has dropped as cost on its development have increased. The pentagon and congress will have to come to terms soon how they will manage two projects and maintain effective levels for the F-35's development. 

The answer is simple, for every F-22 built, one F-35 will be struck from its production run. Since every F-22 built is very capable of replacing a one for one F-35 struck from production, the Air Force will maintain its over-all capability. If building only two hundred more F-22's, then there will be 200 less F-35 built over its program life. The only detrimental caveat is the cost of production ramp-up for the F-22 is very expensive. That costs may reduce total F-35 units even more by reducing its air wings size more than planned. 

If the US is planning a Generation 6 JSF, then it makes sense to cap the F-35 force to a significant number such as 1,800 having another two hundred F-22's at its flanks making the composite force of F-22's and F-35's equaling about 2,200 aircraft in the US Air Force.  Counting F-15, F-16 and FA-18 retirements, provides for smooth transition which can be accomplished during both production runs as the F-22 enhances the F-35 better than any of its predecessors are capable of complimenting. The F-22 is significantly better than any of the aforementioned Gen 4 aircraft that are aging rapidly. Making more F-22's is the bridge to the F-35 dominant role, it will play over the next 50 years. Perhaps in another 20 years there will be enough Trillions for adding additional Air Force aircraft for the world security objectives.