You gotta love Air Power Australia. The pro-F-22 think-tank has championed a lot of perfectly-sound but politically-impossible ideas. First, they said the U.S. Air Force needs 600 F-22 Raptors, instead of the 250 it’s likely to get. Then the think-tank proposed that the U.S. Marine Corps buy F-22s. Now they’re saying the Navy needs a Raptor variant, with heavy modifications to fly off carrier decks. For only a navalized F-22 is “capable of keeping the fleet alive in the face of modern Russian-designed supersonic sea skimming weapons, which have proliferated on a global scale.”
APA optimistically pins the price of their F/A-22N at just $150 million per copy. In fact, it would be much, much higher, given the state of our aerospace procurement apparatus. But even at $150 million, a single naval Raptor would cost three times what a factory-fresh F/A-18F costs. Where’s that extra cash going to come from?
Now let’s imagine the Navy magically did come up with a few billion extra bucks to buy airplanes. Given that, it’s not a naval Raptor we really need, but a new plane to fill a huge capability gap left by the retirement of the S-3 Viking. The Viking had what no current, armed, carrier-based Navy aircraft has: long legs, long loiter time, lots of internal space and the ability to do all those dirty, boring jobs that don’t make for good action movies or PC flight simulators, but help win wars.
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