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Is a truly low cost combat aircraft feasible

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posted on Feb, 10 2007 @ 10:51 PM
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A quick roundup of current fighter costs came up with the following:

Chinese FC-1 $15M
JAS Gripen $45M
Typhoon $45M (sometimes misquoted as $64.8M)
HAL Tejas $23M
Rafale $61M
F-22 $120M

Some interesting comparative numbers from 1981 adjusted to 1997 are:

Aircraft Year Fielded FY81$ FY97$
A3A 1956 7.815 11.73493107
A4A/B 1956 1.917 2.878549311
A6A 1963 13.123 19.70537434
A7D 1968 5.012 7.525972428
A7E 1967 5.0 7.50795334
A10 1974 7.272 10.91956734
F4A/B 1959 9.613 14.43479109
F14 1972 23.901 35.88951856
F15 1974 19.356 29.06478897
F16 1979 9.641 14.47683563
F/A18CD 1980 23.968 35.99012513
F105 1957 12.28 18.4395334
F111 1967 23.51 35.30239661
B52 1955 7.0 36.84758364
B58 1959 12.0 59.41258741
B1A 1978 93.8 227.0441026
A7D 1968 5.012 7.525972428
A7E 1967 5.0 7.50795334

All costings are highly contentious, but that's not really the point. The point really is that with F-22's costing $120M each even the US cannot afford to procure more than a handful, so is there an option or are we faced with having an air force which will continually shrink because of unit cost.

Losing just 20 or 30 aircraft in combat would constitute a signficant loss from the entire fleet. Faced with these numbers, the Chinese FC-1 not only looks like a great litle fighter, but it offers incredible value if you take it with the indigenous avionics package, engine, and ejection seat.

For example, I recall that only 12 years ago it was possible to purchase the very cost effective Chinese MiG-19 attack derivative (Nanchang A-5) for just $1M each, new from the factory with a support package. On the other hand, I have heard numbers like $8M quoted just for an engine, and $1M for an ejection seat.

So is it possible to build a capable fighter for say $5M using some type of revolutionary new moulded plastic/carbon fiber construction process for example or are more and more expensive fighters the only way forward.




posted on Feb, 11 2007 @ 01:11 AM
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I'm so glad somebody put a list like this together and you've done a great job Retseh.

We can finally see, in black and white, that the UK can afford to purchase 3 Typhoons for the price of a single F22.

Makes sense to me, but what do I know, eh mojo?



posted on Feb, 11 2007 @ 03:29 AM
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You can get extremely cheap J-7E/G fighters for $5-7 million



posted on Feb, 11 2007 @ 05:11 AM
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you get what you pay for

some of the biggests dudget slices in an aircraft are avionics : sensors . EW etc

also , speed and manoverability costs too

it is pointless to send oup a " cheap swarm " that cannot find an aggressor , cannot catch it , and whoes weapons cannot engage the intruder

also - lower cost systems have increased vulerability to lower tech weapons

faced with a " cheap swarm " of slow . low intruders that cannot use stand off weapons and are clear weather / day ight only

such weapons as 40mm canon - will become more viable again

it is a vicious circle



posted on Feb, 11 2007 @ 10:48 AM
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Personally I think that without all of the advanced RAM the F-22 would be MILLIONS cheaper. The air force could order some of those and we would still have a low RCS aircraft that retains all of its sensors, avionics, agility and supercruise abilities. Personally I think that it would still be a match for anything currently in the sky.

Plese correct me if this is wrong but the price of the raptors is decreasing. I direct you to this thread:

www.abovetopsecret.com...

1 Billion for 23 F-22s works out to ~43.5 million/raptor. So in this specific instance, the raptor is less expensive than even the Typhoon.

[edit on 11-2-2007 by BlackWidow23]



posted on Feb, 11 2007 @ 11:07 AM
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't advanced fighter jets historically had very high kill ratios? I'm pretty sure the F-15 has had kill ratios of something like 10:1 or 20:1. So you loose twenty- 5 million dollar jets, that's 100 million dollars, not to mention the cost of training the pilots that are now dead. Even if you loose ten jets that cost 10-15 million dollars to each raptor, that adds up to a lot of money.

It seems to me that the raptor could be a cost-effective solution.



[edit on 11-2-2007 by Soylent Green Is People]



posted on Feb, 11 2007 @ 11:11 AM
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I remember reading somewhere that if you remove the pilot from an airplane the plane becomes something like 30 percent cheaper since you don't have to put life systems on it etc. If you are talking about low cost combat aircraft you should include the UCAV's on there too since they have air to ground capabilities.(I'm not sure about their air to air though/dogfighting)
According to this site,
www.afa.org...
"At one-third the cost of a JSF, the UCAV could have an $11 million price tag, as measured in 1999 dollars."
If that is true, it would be up there with cheapest combat aircraft right?

www.fas.org...

Although, not a true fighter jet the UCAV might one day progress to one. I say do not rule the UCAV out since it does have some strengths of it's own; it's smaller, more stealth, etc.



[edit on 11-2-2007 by Low Orbit]



posted on Feb, 11 2007 @ 09:46 PM
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Contentious indeed!

Here's an eye-opener and mind you its quite recent (July 2006)



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 12:09 AM
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I beleive what you're speculating about already exists.

The F-5 was designed to be a truly low cost combat vehicle.



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 05:40 AM
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Yes, but the catch is you would have to build it from "off-the-shelf" components, with little state of the art technology. Most of the cost of a fighter is in the R&D phase. The less you need to develop, the cheeper the aircraft is to build.

Tim



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 05:59 AM
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Of course a low cost war plane is possible its just that in the last 60 years there hasn't been a need because of the US vast financial resources and since WW2 the US has been involved in a war where there winner is the country with the greatest industrial output .

Other factors such as how long material takes to repair on an aircraft also come into play . Of course the real key is to take the likes of the F-22 and produce the aircraft on a lower cost basis without any loss in performance and functionality.

[edit on 12-2-2007 by xpert11]



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 06:30 AM
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Low cost combat aircraft are possible, just not wanted.

If you look at the history of these types you can see they have been attempted before, but remained unpopular.

I think porobably the last attempt to see production so far was the BAe Hawk 200. a single seat, fully functioning radar equipped all weather fighter based on the Hawk trainer airframe. It flew successfully and performs its job admirably well (its 7,000lb payload compares well with other ex-trainers for example, and yet it sold in pitifully small numbers.

Before that, an arguably better attempt was the Folland Gnat. This extremely small and cheap fighter boasted the same performance of the Hunter and Sabre which equipped many of the worlds air forces at the time. Despite this, apart from license production in India, it also sold in very small numbers with only Finland and Yugoslavia recieving about a dozen between them. The Gnat became more famous as the first mount of the Red Arrows from 1964-80

There may well be a stigma attached to buying a fighter that is a converted trainer (the Gnat was actually the other way round, being a fighter first). Even the most successful low cost fighter of them all, the F-5, was based on a pre existing trainer, the T-38.

The last US attempt to produce a low cost fighter, as an 'F-5 replacement' centred around the F-16/79, a cheap J-79 powered F-16, as its name suggests, was completely ignored by absolutely everybody, whilst the 'successful' candidate, the really quite brilliant F-20, which was originally called the F-5G, was equally snubbed by governments who simply asked why they should buy a fighter the USAF does not want, 'why can't we just buy F-16's like you?' Which is what they did.

[edit on 12-2-2007 by waynos]



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 06:50 AM
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The Folland Gnat experience seems to show that there could be a demand for low cost in planes in certain circumstances and places. Low cost war planes would be handy in places where air power needs to be projected and politicians and defence contracts aren't in each others pockets. Of course a low cost war plane would face stiff competition from Russian made aircraft and aircraft from other nations.



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 10:22 AM
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Originally posted by xpert11
The Folland Gnat experience seems to show that there could be a demand for low cost in planes in certain circumstances and places. Low cost war planes would be handy in places where air power needs to be projected and politicians and defence contracts aren't in each others pockets. Of course a low cost war plane would face stiff competition from Russian made aircraft and aircraft from other nations.



The Gnat was a good plane even with all its miniscularity..

And on a separate note, the article earlier states that the F-22 unit procurement cost makes the airframe literally 'worth its weight in gold'!!



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 03:17 PM
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Originally posted by fritz
We can finally see, in black and white, that the UK can afford to purchase 3 Typhoons for the price of a single F22.

Makes sense to me, but what do I know, eh mojo?


No it can't because the Typhoon is not that cheap either. At best you're looking at a 1.5/1 ratio of Typhoons to Raptors when you base it off estimated fly away costs.

As someone said earlier, you get what you pay for. The F-22 for example will give you all those extra goodies in terms of information and intelligence as well as excellent A2A and A2G capability. If you want to by a cheap fighter that will be shot down in huge numbers, go ahead, just make sure you can turn out good quality pilots and planes like "sausages", to use an old quote.



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 03:42 PM
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I'm sure the flyaway cost has already been compared by analysts in the RAF. It does make sense to drop the Typhoon (international relations with Europe aside). Despite everyone's wishes however, I do not see the USAF being willing to sell anyone the F-22 (even the UK.) And, I'm not sure if a downgraded version of the F-22 would be worth that 1.5/1 ratio.



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 04:01 PM
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I doubt any country ESPECIALLY a country as militarily intelligent as the UK would pay the same price for a downgraded version of the raptor. If I was making the decisions over at the UK, I would DEMAND a lower price for a downgraded version, or I wouldnt even negotiate.



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 04:45 PM
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Well said BlackWidow. Unfortunately my friend, Military Intelligence and the UK are contrdictions in terms.

Hell if I were doing the purchasing, I'd bin the F-22 and for the same money £2.5B invested up to end of financial year 2005, I'd have bought Typhoons for the RAF and wavy Navy.

And before all you blue water fanatics start jumping up and down with indignation, yes, I would put arrester hooks and reinforced undercarriages on them.

But there again, you don't really need them because to date, your two aircraft carriers are still on the drawing board - I think. [Hedging bets for mojo]

Incidentally, what is the point of buying cut priced crap from the USA? We seem to make a habit of doing this of late. I guess it must be this one sided special relationship we keep hearing so much about!

Please, don't make me
The special relationship only works one way.



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 05:00 PM
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Some countries cant afford the likes of the F-35 or the F-22.
Take Africa for example air power could turn many of the conflicts on its head but the price of a single F-22 would be to high and the local military would be unable to maintain the aircraft's tech systems as well as the likes of the engines.

Now a low cost war plane with the following traits would be ideal .

Equal or better performance to current designs excluding the F-22 and F-35.
The ability to land on damaged or poor airstrips.
A heavy payload of weapons.
A simple design that is ease to maintain and repair.
Manufacture spare parts in the local region where the plane is in operation.
Simple and quick to manufacture.

Bear in mind that the aircraft isn't designed to defeat the USAF . Instead the budget war plane is designed to help win third world conflicts .

[edit on 12-2-2007 by xpert11]



posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 05:39 PM
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Yes, and that is exactly what the Hawk 200 was designed for. What killed it stone dead was how cheaply the Flanker can be bought. Prime example here is Malaysia for instance. They cut short their plans to re-equip their fighter forces with the Hawk 200 (which they still operate too) and took the plunge with Su-30's for roughly the same price.



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