Mark Collins - Liberalism (small) vs Multiculturalism Mark Collins - Canada as Energy Superpower: Plugged up
Nov 21

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:

Australia and F-35: Misleading Canadian Story

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

2 Responses to “Mark Collins - The F-35 and the Cost of Extending CF-18s’ Service Life”

  1. MarkOttawa Says:

    Our government, for its part, remains very cagey about its fighter planning:

    ‘Ambrose’s new F-35 talking point: Some dissection and speculation

    Following on from Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s non-answer to Kevin Newman about whether Canada was going to be looking at just the F-35 as a replacement fighter jet for the CF-18, the New Democrats had some questions of their own in the House of Commons Monday.

    NDP critic Christine Moore posited during question period that MacKay might “know as little” about the replacement of the CF-18s as Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose, noting his refusal to identify any other potential replacement apart from the F-35. So, Moore asked, what fighter jets, other than the F-35, are being considered?

    To begin with, Ambrose deferred to familiar talking points.

    “The member knows we will not be purchasing any replacements for the CF-18s until this seven-point action plan has been completed, including an independent verification of the cost estimates for the F-35 and a full options analysis,” she said.

    Then Ambrose said something new: “That full options analysis will be a full evaluation of all the choices and will not simply be a refresh of the work that has already been done. We look forward to that being done.”..’

    Read on and try out your own ouija board.

    Mark Collins

  2. MarkOttawa Says:

    More on USN Hornets from DID:

    Nov 15/12: USN Life Extension. The US GAO publishes GAO-13-51, “Better Cost Estimates Needed for Extending the Service Life of Selected F-16s and F/A-18s.” The lateness of the F-35, and high flight-hour usage over Iraq and Afghanistan, are making it hard to keep fighter numbers up. Current USAF plans involve $2.61 billion to upgrade at least 300 of 1,020 F-16s to fly another 2,000 hours (est. 6-8 years) each, add more advanced radars, etc. The USN would spend about $2.19 billion to keep 150 of 624 F/A-18A-D Hornet fighters flying for another 1,400 flight hours (est. 5 years) each, alongside a separate buy of 41 more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

    The alternative is a more expensive approach that would buy new F-16s or Super Hornets. They would cost much more, but last 4x-5x as long. The problem is that the cost of new planes is known, but costs of fixing existing aircraft to cover for additional F-35 delays or add new capabilities aren’t as clear. F-16 upgrades could rise to 650 planes, and F/A-18 Hornet life extension could rise to 280 planes, with the possibility of added capability upgrades.

    The US Navy’s 2011 plan for its Hornet fleet would take place over FY 2013-2017. The planes to be upgraded would be specially chosen, presumably for low wear and structural integrity. They would also be individually evaluated for capability enhancements, but those aren’t in the $2.19 billion budget. Current estimates involve another $1.76 million per Hornet for capability upgrades, and an average of $5.64 million more if the Hornets need structural life extension and obsolescence replacement. That gives us a figure of between $2.19 – $3.3 billion if 150 Hornets are upgraded ($14.6 – $22 million per plane), and the upper ends of that figure offer poorer long-term value for money than buying a new Super Hornet in the mid-$60 million range.

    If costs are linear, the total for a 280 plane program would be between $4.09 – 6.16 billion, but costs are often not linear. Hence the GAO’s recommendation to do a full sensitivity analysis, so decision makers can fully understand the range of Navy costs between $2.19 – $6.16 billion…’

    Plus Canadian planes:

    Aug 20/07: Canada. Boeing and industry partner L-3 Communications MAS, Inc., deliver the first modernized Phase II CF-18 fighter to the Canadian Department of Defense. Boeing previously completed 2 prototype aircraft, while L-3 provided installation services for the program’s remaining 77 aircraft. The Phase II work is done at the L-3 facility in Mirabel (Montreal), Quebec.

    Phase I, completed in August 2006, upgraded the Canadian Hornet fleet’s avionics, radio and weapons capabilities. The USD $150 million Phase II of the CF-18 modernization program adds a data link system, a helmet-mounted sight system, new color cockpit displays and a new chaff- and flare-dispensing electronic warfare system to 79 CF-18 (F/A-18 A/B) Hornets. The program is expected to be completed in March 2010…”

    Mark Collins

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.