The F-22 Fighter Jet Restart Is Dead: Study

An F-22 Raptor from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., sits on the flightline while a Raptor launches from the Tyndall runway Dec. 10, 2015, during Checkered Flag 16-1. (Photo: Senior Airman Sergio A. Gamboa)

Sorry, Raptor fans. As many expected, the F-22 restart will never happen.

And the No. 1 reason is cost, according to a new study.

In a classified report submitted to Congress this month, the Air Force estimated it would cost approximately "$50 billion to procure 194 additional F-22s, at an estimated cost of $206 million to $216 million per aircraft," officials told Military.com on Wednesday.

"The total includes an estimate of approximately $9.9 billion for non-recurring start-up costs and $40.4 billion for aircraft procurement costs," the service said.

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Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson delivered the report to the congressional defense committees June 9. Last year, the House Armed Services Air and Land Forces subcommittee tasked the service to issue a study of what it would take to reopen Lockheed Martin's F-22 production line.

"The Air Force has no plans restart the F-22 production line; it wouldn't make economic or operational sense to do so," according to a statement from Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Emily Grabowski.

The service instead has recommended applying resources to the "capability development plans outlined in the Air Superiority 2030 Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team Flight," she said.

Air Superiority 2030 is the plan to promote advanced fighter aircraft, sensors and weapons in a growing and unpredictable threat environment.

The potential F-22 project inevitably would have cost billions.

According to a 2010 Rand study, restarting the F-22 production line to build just 75 more jets would have cost about $20 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Part of the reason is that the service would be building a new, modern Raptor -- not a 1990s version.

"You're not building the same airplane you were building before, and it becomes a much more expensive proposition," a defense analyst in Washington, D.C., told Military.com on background in March. "So do you build a new 'old' F-22, or do you build an improved one?" the analyst said.

In addition, Rand's figure was a rough estimate to restart production and build a small lot of planes. It didn't take into account the cost of hiring workers, integrating newer stealth technologies, or training and equipping additional pilots.

So the message is clear: F-35 or bust.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at@Oriana0214.

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