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.

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