Saturday, 20 November 2010

Aircraft Costs: Lightning II Versus Typhoon II

The 31 aircraft in the 4th Low Rate Initial Production (L.R.I.P.) lot will cost $3,480 Million or £2,175 Million.

That equates to an average of cost £70 Million for each of the mixed lot of 10 F 35As,17 F 35Bs and 4 F 35Cs.

This makes an interesting contrast with the latest order of Typhoon II aircraft for the Royal Air Force.

In July 2009 the Royal Air Force purchased 16 additional Typhoons to bring it's total order up to 160 aircraft.

These 16 aircraft cost £2,700 Million and bring the total procurement cost of the Typhoon fleet close to £21,000 Million (excluding it's weapons).

This equates to a staggering £168 Million per tranche 3A aircraft,it is unclear why these cost so much when production cost is said to be about £73 Million each.

"Following intensive negotiations,the Department subsequently decided that best value for money in the circumstances would be to buy an additional 16 aircraft to take it up to the financial ceiling whilst meeting operational requirements.

 In July 2009 the Department approved an additional £2.7 billion for the Typhoon programme including the purchase of these aircraft,which it believes meets its outstanding financial obligations.

 This represented a new financial commitment for the Department,and was a significant contributor to the gap between estimated funding and the cost of the Defence budget over the next ten years which we reported in the Major Projects Report 2009 as between £6 billion and £36 billion."

The procurement cost of these 16 aircraft is equivalent to half the cost of the Royal Navy's 2 new aircraft carriers.

In fact,it is nearly three times the £987 Million production cost of H.M.S.Prince of Wales.

The procurement cost of the aircraft carriers is spread over a 21 year period from 1999 to service entry in 2020.

The cost of the additional Typhoons drained £2,700 Million from the defence budget in a single year.

Strangely,this vast increase in expenditure has barely rated a mention in the press.

Over their life cycle,these aircraft are likely to cost £6,720 Million including operating costs.

Which is enough to operate the Nimrod M.R.A.4 fleet for the next 33 years.

It is also enough to operate the Harrier G.R.9 fleet for the next 54 years.

Unfortunately something had to be cut to pay for these Tranche 3A Typhoons.

The National Audit Office report continues:

"On the Typhoon combat aircraft project the Department did not include realistic provision in its budgets to reflect likely project outcomes.

The Department’s additional £2.7 billion commitment to the Typhoon programme including the purchase of 16 Tranche 3A Typhoon aircraft has therefore had to be accommodated by making savings elsewhere in the Defence budget."

It appears that cutting the Harrier and Nimrod fleets may have been the "savings elsewhere in the Defence budget" which the National Audit Office referred to.

Before even entering service the Tranche 3 Typhoons have already shot down 83 aircraft.

Unfortunately they were all friendlies.


Chuck Hill said...

I'm really surprised to see that the Typhoon is more expensive than the F-35.

steve said...

I realized a day or two back that what is happening now re RAF/FAA fast air is the diametric opposite of the Sandys' Whitepaper.

Sandys wanted to get rid of manned aircraft for missiles at a time when missiles hadn't moved much past Medieval Chinese bombardment rockets.

Now "we" are "arguing" over manned aircraft that are already being "outflown" by missiles and UAVs.

Reminds me of that report that said a home built "Tornado" would have been cheaper.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Chuck Hill,

previous figures for Typhoon production tranches range from about £49 Million per aircraft to £73 Million.

Including development costs,Britains Typhoons will have cost about £130 Million each.

It is not clear why this last batch cost so much.
Someone suggested that the costs of upgrading earlier batches was included in that number but I have not seen anything official to confirm that.

The latest batch of F35s has come in well below the figures given in the Navy's FY2011 budget: