25 July 2009

The rain in Spain better stay off THIS plane...

The United States' top fighter jet, the Lockheed Martin F-22, has recently required more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the skies, pushing its hourly cost of flying to more than $44,000, a far higher figure than for the warplane it replaces, confidential Pentagon test results show.

The aircraft's radar-absorbing metallic skin is the principal cause of its maintenance troubles, with unexpected shortcomings -- such as vulnerability to rain and other abrasion -- challenging Air Force and contractor technicians since the mid-1990s...

"It is a disgrace that you can fly a plane [an average of] only 1.7 hours before it gets a critical failure" that jeopardizes success of the aircraft's mission, said a Defense Department critic of the plane who is not authorized to speak on the record. Other skeptics inside the Pentagon note that the planes, designed 30 years ago to combat a Cold War adversary, have cost an average of $350 million apiece and say they are not a priority in the age of small wars and terrorist threats. ..

...Pierre Sprey, a key designer in the 1970s and 1980s of the F-16 and A-10 warplanes, said that from the beginning, the Air Force designed it to be "too big to fail, that is, to be cancellation-proof."
The world's most sophisticated jet fighter is vulnerable to rain... Vulnerable to RAIN. You can't make up stuff like this...

Photo credit.


  1. There is a silver lining, it's toast now.

    "The secretary of defense, Robert Gates, must conduct an unprecedented lobbying effort to remove funding for the F-22 stealth fighter, because the U.S. isn't using the 187 it has and probably won't for a long time, if ever.

    "The president, Barack Obama, must threaten to veto the entire defense appropriations bill if Congress won't take the hint that the military neither wants nor needs more F-22s."

  2. From everything I've heard, I'm pleased that President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates wants to axe the program. It seems to me that wasting our tax dollars on systems, that while sophisticated, are so maintenance needy and delicate to the point of inoperability, are a poor use of assets. I totally believe in maintaining a technological military advantage over our foreign adversaries. Playing Civilization 4 has taught me that much. But we have to do it with a frugal and practical mind.

  3. "Pierre Sprey, a key designer in the 1970s and 1980s of the F-16 and A-10 warplanes, (and legendary French porn star)"

  4. They'll just start a new project and design something that will not go into service in another 20 years.

    This crap goes in cycles.

  5. The same thing happened when the Apache was first fielded. The commander (a full-bird) of a sister unit went on record in the Stars and Stripes or Army Times or some other big name military paper to complain that he was putting his men in danger every time they flew.

    His career was over, but his men appreciated it. The Apache eventually got better, but it sucked at the beginning too.


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