If the government goes ahead with the F-35 it is clear the RCAF’s Hornets will have to be kept in service longer than planned because of the F-35 program’s delays. See the end of this post:
But no-one here has given any estimates of the costs to keep the CF-18s operational. Meanwhile see this from Aviation Week and Space Technology about the US situation:
Better Cost Assessments Needed To Extend Fighters’ Lives, GAO says
The U.S. Air Force’s and Navy’s price estimates to bolster current fighter fleets in the wake of F-35 slips fail to capture all the costs likely involved, says a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. “The Air Force’s and Navy’s cost estimates to upgrade and extend the service life of selected fighter aircraft exhibit some characteristics of a high-quality cost estimate but do not reflect all potential costs,” says the GAO report, “Better Cost Estimates Needed for Extending the Service Life of Selected F-16s and F/A-18s,” released Nov. 15.
The estimates were well-documented, GAO notes. “They identified data sources and methodologies; accurate since they accounted for inflation and were checked for errors; and mostly comprehensive since they included the work planned and identified key assumptions. However, GAO says, “The estimates were not fully credible in part because they did not assess the extent to which the total costs could change if additional work is done or more aircraft are included in the programs.”
For example, GAO says, Air Force leaders indicated in March 2012 that they intend to upgrade and extend the service life of 50 additional F-16s beyond the original 300 [emphasis added], but the Air Force has not assessed how much the cost might increase if more aircraft are added to the program.
The Navy plans to upgrade the capabilities of some aircraft at the same time as the service-life extension, but this cost is not included in the Navy estimates, GAO says.
“The Navy may extend the life of or replace other aircraft components that are becoming obsolete, but these costs — which could add an average cost of $5.64 million per aircraft — were also not included in the original $2.19 billion estimate.
Another factor affecting the credibility of the estimates, GAO says, is that they have not been compared to an independently developed estimate. “GAO’s past work has shown that such an independent cost estimate is one of the best validation methods since an independent cost estimate tends to be higher and more accurate than a program office estimate,” GAO contends…
One hopes some people up here are paying attention. After all the CF may be cash-strapped for a good while.
Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger
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