Romney’s F-22 dreams died Tuesday

President Barack Obama’s re-election Tuesday signaled any bids to restart the F-22 production line after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had raised the issue on the campaign trail saying he wanted to build more F-22s.

Romney lumped in the F-22 with his plans to build more ships for the Navy during an interview with a Virginia television station in September.

“Rather than completing nine ships per year, I’d move that up to 15. I’d also add F-22s to our Air Force fleet. And I’d add about 100,000 active duty personnel to our military team,” Romney said in the interview. “I think the idea of shrinking our military to try and get closer to balancing our budget is the wrong place to look.”

Romney’s interest in adding to the Air Force’s F-22 fleet took many by surprise. The Air Force had fought the Bush administration to keep production beyond 187 aircraft before former Defense Secretary Robert Gates shut those discussions down in 2007.

The Obama administration has shown no interest in restarting Lockheed Martin’s F-22 production line.

Loren Thompson, a consultant for Lockheed Martin and other defense companies, suggested that reopening the line would cost at least $900 million, not to mention the cost of each aircraft. In September, Defense Tech’s sister blog, DoDBuzz examined how long and what it would take to start building F-22s again:

In 2010, Japan discussed buying 40 F-22s from Lockheed Martin, builder of the F-22. Lockheed officials then told Japanese leaders it would cost $900 million to re-open the production line. Thompson said the cost would surely increase when considering two years have passed and the production line was still “semi-warm.”

The cost to reopen the production line would come in addition to the per aircraft price tag to manufacture each jet. That per aircraft cost is harder to decipher. When factoring in development and manufacturing, the price tag per jet totaled the U.S. more than $370 million. However, the flyaway cost — the cost of manufacturing one jet — equaled $137 million per jet.

Re-opening the production line in Marietta, Ga., would take at least two years, Thompson said. Lockheed would be slowed by re-establishing supplier networks and re-training employees.

“In a rush, you could do it in about two years assuming all the other workers weren’t on other projects like F-35,” Thompson said.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to Military.com. He can be reached at mhoffman@tandemnsi.com.
  • blight_

    Just tell Lockheed to make a new F-25, using lessons from low production F-22 and complex and intractable F-35. If it worked for the Virginia, rising from the ruins of the Seawolf program…

    • Mastro

      Um- you want to throw together the two programs- AND save $$?

      A simple F35- less stealthy bays to add weight- might be cheaper- but that’s it.

  • ddd

    I’m a little confused…have they totally fixed the hypoxia issue?

    • Anonymous

      It’s the pilots fault. Support the troops!

    • Lance

      I read something about them redesigning Combat Edge…idk if that would fix it…

  • Tad

    Good. The US is broke. The wallet is empty. No money, no expensive toys.

    • dirtylodown

      But somehow we are going to pay people to be lazy?

      • Tad

        I didn’t address that issue. Let me add to me original statement:

        No money, no expensive welfare programs.

        • zak

          Oh the liberals will always find money for welfare programs…just mortgage more of the future!

          Will Obamas 4 year plan work as well as Stalins 5 year plans?

    • ras743

      “Toys” you say? Peace-dividend Democrat? You’ll see what kind of toys they are when other nations can dictate terms to us because they have more and better toys like these. Three things are true today: The One is still in power; it’s still a very dangerous world; and he has no clue how to deal with it and couldn’t care less as he leaves the troops to the mercy of our enemies while dreaming up more “bread and circuses” schemes for the masses.

    • superraptor

      we need to let all the Bush tax cuts expire, otherwise we can’t pay for our military anymore

  • Weaponhead

    Let’s all take Mandarin classes.

  • JE McKellar

    Besides, what we really need to do is restart the A-12 Avenger II project. No point building a stealth aircraft if you can’t deploy it at sea and it ain’t got a decent-sized bomb bay.

  • Raraavis

    How about we bring home our troops and close some of our 700 foreign military installations. Instead of paying foreign nations for the privilege of defending them we bring our troops home and station them in the United States. Imagine the economic impact stationing 10,000 troops and their families at a base in a US City would have.

    Have the Pentagon identify the foreign military bases that actually offer some strategic advantage and close everything else. All that money spent maintaining outpost all over the world can be spent on more advanced weapons.

    The South Korean Economy is easily 100 times the size of the North Korean economy, certainly South Korea can afford to defend themselves. If North Korea invades South Korea we will happily assist the South Koreans with massive Air and Naval Support but why in the world should we have US Soldiers on the ground defending the border.

  • Jerry

    Rather than building a war crap machine, lets invest in education, health, energy, and organic food.
    Peace!

  • dubweiser101

    I don’t think the USAF needs new F-22’s anyway. There just isn’t any viable opposition to justify its continued production at this point. The PAK-FA, J-31, and J-20 are still about 5-10 years from entering service. Until then it would be wise to keep upgrading the tech for the F-22’s but not producing any more until there is a legitimate need to.

    • I agree. Furthermore, I think the USAF should concentrate its resources on the next generation of fighters, small unmanned fighters.

  • Lance

    Not happening sad to see just a few F-22s make it into service. But now F-15 and F-22 upgrades need bigger importance.

  • Mike L

    We have some of the F-22’s here in Hawaii and it is a beautiful site to watch them sore thru our skies. I am waiting for the F-35s to get up there as soon as they can. Our aircraft are getting old and we need the new ones, not just because they are better. We DO NOT want to sacrifice our fleets or pilots because of old age.

  • Krypto

    Perhaps those in charge new that it made no since to produce countless high priced F-22’s, It’s a safe bet that there are other weapons that are being developed. I’m sure the boys in the labs are cooking up some killer drones, and weapon systems so exotic we haven’t even thought of them.
    But for right now we have hard enough time taking care of the guy with RPG, or a stinger.

  • Marcellus Hambrick

    Why do we need such a big military? Ali these liberal social programs will save us.

    • Raraavis

      Save us from what?

      What is a bigger threat to our way of life then a 16 Trillion dollar debt and another 30 Trillion in unfunded future commitments?

    • blight_

      If we downsize our military some more, people will stop begging for us to save them in all corners of the world. Whew! And we can get back to our Roaring Twenties in relative isolationism.

  • w d wilmarth

    scrape the ill-fated F-35…toooooooooooo expensive and can’t do any of it msns…just build updated F-15’s and F-16’s….they are proven and way cheaper I’m sure…LCMC will always win either way

  • Nicky

    Can’t we just build an non stealthy version of the F-22 using the technology from the F-15E strike eagle.

    • William C.

      So we’d throw away the best advantage of the F-22 to do what exactly?

  • BlackOwl18E

    All we need is for the U.S. Navy to get upgraded Super Hornets and advanced anti-radar ordinance to accomplish the mission. Cancel the F-35B and F-35C. Let the USAF get the F-35A and let our allies buy the F-35A.

    If sequestration goes through, however, the military has to ask itself one very important question: What are they willing to sacrifice to save the F-35 program when cutting the program all together could easily manage the budget cuts?

    Bottom line: if sequestration goes though in January then the F-35 has to go immediately.

    • Anlushac11

      If you kill the F-35B the USMC has nothing to replace their aging AV-8 Harriers. The Harrier is out of production and there are no other VTOL multi role aircraft in development.

      The USN does not have to have a F-35C. The USAF does not have to have a F-35A.

      Only the USMC is desperate for a Harrier replacement that can operate off the USN Gators.

      • William C.

        Without any further F-22 production or development, the USAF needs the F-35A more than it ever did.

        The Navy has a somewhat newer Super Hornet fleet, but lets not delude ourselves into thinking this administration will properly fund F/A-XX or another new strike fighter for the Navy. The F-35C working in conjunction with F/A-18E/F will be pretty potent, if not the best we could have done.

  • Rob

    I see no urgency in any air weapon system. Despite growth, I do not see China, Russia or anyone else ready to take us on in the very near future.

    Our current enemies are all on the ground. Many are in foreign countries amongst their population. Resources need diverted heavily to surveillance, electronics, body armor, defensive walls. Fortify our borders. Secure larger perimeters around all our remote bases.

    It’s a win/win. The more protected we are as a country, the less damage that can be done. Whether by terrorists, drug mafias, average criminals, or foreign armies.

    Tech will only be better in the next few years. Build a super jet after the next decent tech leap.

  • William C.

    Those who supported halting F-22 production and development and now support doing to the same to the F-35 ought to understand that they helped created this scenario where the F-35 is an absolute necessity. It is the only serious fighter development occurring outside of some minor upgrade programs to existing fighters that aren’t enough for he long term.

  • Arby

    “President Barack Obama’s re-election Tuesday signaled any bids to restart the F-22 production line after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had raised the issue on the campaign trail saying he wanted to build more F-22.”

    That opening sentence is missing something. What is going to happen to any bid to restart the F-22 line? We know that Obama’s re-election signaled the bids and that Romney had mentioned the issue on the campaign trail, but you fail to tell us what is going to happen to the bids.

  • EW3

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
    ― Alexis de Tocqueville
    Wednesday, November 07, 2012

    • McDowall

      http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Alexander_Fraser_Tyt

      1 – Alexis de Tocqueville never said that.
      2 – The quote is attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler, but he never said that either.
      3 – This quote surfaced on the internet in 2000, ironically aimed at Bush after he won.

      • blight_

        Tax cuts are another form of largesse. Anything outside of starvation is largesse.

    • jim

      that is the most eloquent piece of non information I have ever heard

  • What I cant understand is why Lockheed Martin is allowed to always overrun by a huge margin again and again and again with every defence project they have! its as bad a BAE is in the UK, sometimes I wonder if they both have a stash of photos with politicians interfering with Donkeys as blackmail material

  • TonyC

    During the cold war, the public would never know how much it cost to develop and field the F-22A or F-35A for that matter. These would be black programs like the B-2 before them. Congress would be given only very basic estimates and the Air Force would spend the money. Now the costs are very speculative and putting an exact price on any new design is not possible until it is fielded. The F-22A is now the backbone of the Air Force first strike capability to protect the F-35A or B2. With a fleet of 187 aircraft, they are going to be careful where to use them. In a general war, there simply aren’t enough F-22A’s to make a difference. This is why the F-15C’s have been upgraded and the F-16’s are being SLEP’d. Both old air frames are at the end of their life, so there is no choice but to procure the F-35A. Drones can do some of the work and take pressure off the manned systems. if we intend to keep conventional forces relevant, a large number of tactical aircraft will need to be fielded.

    • Chris Lyon

      build brand new 15’s and 16’s way less money than 35’s

  • SJE

    Job #1 should be fixing our weaknesses in cyber war and espionage. We spend billions on our tech, only to have it copied by the Chinese, dulling our superiority. I want to see US military tech, but I want it to stay in the USA.

  • Hefe

    I see both sides of the argument. We need a strong defense including the best airforce. The F-22 is the best air to air fighter and probably will be for a long time. It’s just that the deficit makes everything tough. It’s too hard to pay for a 370 million dollar aircraft when washington can barely afford to keep the lights on. I think the smart thing would be to invest in research to make stealth fighters less expensive.

  • Jacob

    So Romney mentioned once that he would increase shipbuilding and resume production of F-22’s. That probably means that he wouldn’t have done it if he had been elected president. This guy always said stuff and never really meant it.

  • TimUk

    The basic fact is the F22 and whole stealth concept is under attack from senior pilots and chiefs amongst the USAF and Navy.

    The F22 is a joke, it’s range , mission capabilities , super cruise , turnarounds between missions etc etc etc never mind poisoning pilots . Now the JSF comes along which has gone from being an f16 replacement to a jack of all trades at massive expense.The senior USAF generals should be sacked ! More damage has been done to the military and security of the US by these two programs than al Qaeda could dream about .

  • dee

    “Re-opening the production line in Marietta, Ga., would take at least two years.”

    If we ever end up in a protracted 1st world nation on 1st world nation shooting war (meaning a World War against a certain rising aggressive super power to the East…….they make cheap stuff at a cheap price……..) then we’ll be done b/c we cannot replace our hi-tech doo dads in a timely manner. The cheap but effective weapon systems (T-72, MIGs, BMPs, AKs, and RPGs) would win simply by swarming the hi-tech goodies we now have. This worked for the Russians vs. the Germans at Kursk.

    Our Navy’s mindset is to focus on carriers to project power and this is flat out wrong. They focused on battleships to project power pre-WW2, Dec. 7th 1941 showed how easy it is to turn wipe out the expensive battleship with a comparatively cheap wing of planes. Carrier Battle Groups will not survive a swarm of carrier-killing anti-ship missiles.

    • Raraavis

      Good luck to either country to make much of anything without GPS, Satelite Communications, an Internet, or all of the electronics fried by the EMP weapons. Both Governments will be more worried about the food riots in their streets then rearming for round 2.

    • JE McKellar

      There’s always the boneyard and mothball fleet. Not much in the way of missiles, though, would have to do everything with guns and iron bombs.

    • Kirk Gibbs

      Not to mention its tough to make war when your oil and food supplies are cut off. We have oil and food within our borders. They don’t. Just do to them what we did in WWII to the Japanese.

  • big bubba

    rethuglicans!

  • Jon

    This was never going to happen no matter who won the election. There ain’t no money period. While Lockeheed tries to figure out how to make the F-22 stop choking pilots and the tailhook on the -35 catch a wire the USAF could start test driving some Silent Eagles…

  • Steve

    If we had an appropriate threat then it might make sense to construct more F-22’s. Advanced Chinese and Russian designs that MIGHT constitute a threat are not fielded in numbers that would justify reopening F-22 lines. If and when we have a surplus as we did under President Clinton then we could pay down the debt and consider expensive new aircraft. After we leave the Afgan War we’ll have untold equipment to refurbish and repair.

    Romney’s F-22 statements were like those about the 1916 navy, pointless saber rattling to appear “tough.” I wonder if Romney had any idea of how many colliers and oilers accompanied the 1916 fleet. Many vessels are nuclear now and multi-role. A cruiser or destroyer can engage surface, sub-surface and air targets.

    The most important military assets are our infantry in Afghanistan. Bring them home in 2014.

    Steve, a retired disabled infantry officer

    • blight_

      It’s convenient for all that the fighting at sea did not go beyond the North Sea: the logistics get more interesting.

      At least the USN had the sense to transition to oil instead of being stuck with a mixed fuels fleet.

  • Steve

    If we had an appropriate threat then it might make sense to construct more F-22’s. Advanced Chinese and Russian designs that MIGHT constitute a threat are not fielded in numbers that would justify reopening F-22 lines. If and when we have a surplus as we did under President Clinton then we could pay down the debt and consider expensive new aircraft. After we leave the Afgan War we’ll have untold equipment to refurbish and repair.

  • Anton K.

    I’m reading your comments about power, affordability and purpose of the US Air Force. And I’m shocked about some of those statements.
    Your country won’t be overrun by Chinese, Russians or even the Iran. The U.S. spend as much as the whole rest of the world for their army. (Simultaniously you are debt up to the ears – not just because of Obama.)
    Compared to your situation I should be in panic because I am German and live in Europe. That’s the same continent where Putin lives, there is still one total dictator left (white russia) and you just can hop across the Mediterranean Sea to meet the “terror” countries in North Africa.
    Although there are much more Germans than Britains oder French we pay less for military purposes.
    NO, I’m not a pacifist, e.g. I think it’s right that we intervened together in Afghanistan.
    BUT I think you can be a little bit more relaxed.

    • blight_

      Most of the money goes to payroll, contractors to maintain facilities and facilities themselves. Maintaining an overseas presence is not cheap, not even counting the costs of the active duty armed forces.

  • Chris Lyon

    Why not just build new F-15s and 16’s? A-10’s also in a much larger quantity than the new tech planes. Overpower air defense with numbers and cheap pilotless drones.

    • Jack

      Drones are not cheap. Everyone has the misconception that drones are cheap but read some books and articles about how expensive the r and d and how much of the “black” cia budget drones took until the usaf took over the program.

  • Guest

    According to Richard Banholzer, Boeing’s Director of Business Development for the Air Force Fighters and Weapons, was a former USAF F-15A, F-15C and F-15E pilot and test pilot, with 2,000 hours on the F-4 Phantom II and 1,900 hours on F-15s.

    He claims the F-15 still has a vital role to play (which I agree). The F-22 Raptor, with their greater stealth, Raptors might be the aircraft of choice to penetrate particularly high-threat zones.

    However, on the “friendly” side or low to medium threat zones of the forward edge of the battle area – for cruise missile defence, defending high value assets and if the rules of engagement dictate close-in-engagement – the F-15 may be a better choice. So a mixed force of Eagles and Raptors would present a potent combination of flexibility and capability which is a perfect idea to complement with each other.

    I’m not sure if you’re aware Tee, Boeing Co. has extended the F-15 production line well into the 2020’s to attract and satisfy new and existing customers.

    Restart the F-22 production line. Indeed sell the F-22 to Japan & Australia which will bring our production costs down considerably.

  • Guest

    The F-35 is a boondoggle, it’s too incapable of dealing with the changed threat environment. It won’t do you any good of going ahead with the failed program and sink the money. Because the F-35 will be increasingly expensive aircraft that will fail the air defence program.

  • bobs1951

    Why was my comment deleted?

  • ELDERLYREPTILE

    The “Ruskies” have the right idea when designing their aircraft. If a component successfully and reliably used in an earlier design can be used in a pending one THEY’LL use IT. Not only would it’s use cut down design and testing time, the cost should be less too. This goes for oxygen systems too.

  • i need to know how long it takes to build
    f-22 and f-35 aircrafts