Patterico's Pontifications

2/10/2009

That Boring Number-Crunching

Filed under: — Patterico @ 11:42 pm

The linked Orlando Sentinel story tells us:

Obama must decide by March 1 whether to spend $523 million on 20 more of the radar-evading stealth planes beyond the 183 already planned, according to AP. . . . The Air Force, however, has pushed for production of F-22s to reach 381 total aircraft.

$523 million for 20 planes comes out to $26,150,000 per plane. If officials plan to reach 381, and have already budgeted 183, then the issue is whether to buy 198 more planes at $26,150,000 per plane — less than $5.2 billion. That’s less than $55,000 per job.

But, as usual, facts don’t seem consistent across newspapers. The L.A. Times article has wildly different numbers:

The Air Force spent more than $62 billion researching, developing and procuring its first 183 F-22 fighter planes, or more than $300 million a plane. Additional planes cost less, about $142 million a copy.

$26 million per plane, $142 million per plane — tomato, tomahto. Given these numbers, Obama’s March 1 decision to get 20 more planes would cost $2.8 billion — not the $523 million stated by the Orlando paper. And if the government plans to get 198 more, that’s 198 x $142 million, or $28 billion.

Wherein lies the truth? I have no idea. But either way, while buying another 200 planes might not be a cost-effective way of saving jobs (depending on who you talk to), buying another 20 might keep around 100,000 Americans from losing work — and it would strengthen our military capacity. Sounds at least as good as a new overpass in Elkhart, Indiana.

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