|Jun 25, 2009
David A. Fulghum email@example.com
John M. Doyle firstname.lastname@example.org
A letter from Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to Japan's ambassador in Washington lists an estimated average unit cost of $290 million per aircraft for a theoretical export sale of 40 F-22 Raptors.
Both Inouye and Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, and other lawmakers in both chambers are pushing both in public and behind the scenes to allow export of the stealthy, fifth-generation fighter.
But a White House veto threat and persistent opposition from Pentagon leadership - as well as tenuous congressional support - are ratcheting up budget-making tension in Washington. Moreover, the Senate Armed Services Committee - with its leadership backing the President and defense secretary over the F-22 - marked up a bill this week that will lead to a lawmaking showdown with the House.
Inouye's letter to Ichiro Fujisake, Japan's Ambassador to Washington, starts with the assumption of a letter of agreement in early 2010, with major development taking "approximately four years, followed by ground and flight testing." Procurement of long-lead materials would begin in 2011 with production to begin in mid-2014, The first mission capable aircraft could be delivered to Japan in 2017.
"The estimate for non-recurring development and manufacturing cost is $2.3 billion," the letter continues. "The actual cost to produce forty aircraft is approximately $9.3 billion, bringing the total to $11.6 billion. Spreading that cost over an estimated forty aircraft leads to an average aircraft cost of $290 million."
An associated letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the figures were calculated using "information which was provided by the Air Force," Inouye's second letter says. "I believe the government of Japan is likely to be interested in purchasing the aircraft even at the relatively high price which has been estimated."
Congressional support for the F-22 is creating a lot of political tension, but aerospace industry analysts say it's all just rhetoric unless someone in the executive branch -- preferably from the White House -- steps up to support extended Raptor production and export.
The Pentagon is paying $142.5 million per aircraft as part of a multi-year contract. Aerospace industry analysts say that any break in F-22 production would add extra costs.
Meanwhile, the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was drawing a number of lines in the sand marking disagreements with the House passage of the Fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill.
A Statement of Administration Policy issued late June 23 contends that the White House Office of Management and Budget will recommend a veto of the proposed legislation if it includes $369 million in advanced procurement funds for F-22s in FY '11 or the addition of $603 million for an alternative engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.