The United States and its allies have long sought to reduce the cost of developing new fighter aircraft, and one such approach is to replace their design with something cheaper.
But a recent report by a German engineering firm has thrown a wrench into that plan.
The firm, Fraunhofer, published a report on Thursday that found that the design of the F-15 Eagle fighter jet, which is currently being tested in Germany, is much cheaper than the F/A-18 Hornet.
The study by Fraunhwerftest, a research institute based in Germany and Austria, found that if the F35 was to be retrofitted with the F15 Eagle design, it would cost $3.8 billion to replace the plane’s engine and engine-mounted radar.
“The F-20 Eagle is a complex aircraft with a large amount of complex avionics,” Fraunwerftests head of aerospace, Johannes Bischoff, told reporters.
Bischoff added that the F20 Eagle was an advanced fighter plane that was “very difficult to manufacture” and had to be flown on the ground.
Fraunwers report was commissioned after the Pentagon released a preliminary report on the F30, a smaller fighter jet with an engine that can be fitted onto an F-16.
The F30 is a much cheaper plane that is designed to carry the F5E/F6E/Kitsune fighter, a Japanese stealth fighter that can carry a range of nuclear bombs.
The F35 is being tested on the European battlefield against fighters from the United States, France, Italy, Britain, Russia, Saudi Arabia and India.
“A few months ago, I would have told you that the [F-35] engine is going to be much more expensive than the Hornet engine,” said Bischoffs colleague Stefan Wetzel.
“But in the end, we have shown that, in fact, the engine is actually cheaper than what you would expect.”
Bichons report found that there was a clear cost savings when comparing the F135 to the F100.
“For the F110, the price difference between the two engines is almost negligible, while the F140 is a very good value,” he said.
Wetzel added that it was “impossible” to compare the cost savings of the engines, because the F130’s engines cost far more.
A F-14A Raptor is a good example of a jet with a low-cost design that could be fitted with a stealth fighter.
The Raptor was the first jet to have a stealthy engine that is powered by an advanced, turbojet-powered turbofan engine, which has a range and thrust of 3,600km.
It was developed by Lockheed Martin, and the US military has been buying more than 30 of them, but many have been replaced by the F500, a jet powered by a smaller turbojet engine.
For the Eagle, which was built at the time of the Cold War, the cost was $4.3 billion, while for the Hornets it was $5.8.
Although Fraunlfts report found the F150 engine was more expensive, it found that it had “no significant performance cost”.
The F150 is currently flying in the US Army’s fleet, and it is also being tested by US Marines.
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