Final Word from Monday, September 25, 2023

Saab said in one of its full-page ads in the Czech media this month that the Gripen E has "half the operating costs and much higher operational availability." A report last Thur. by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) makes it clearer what the Swedes were getting at. The GAO, which is similar to the Czech NKÚ audit office, reported that the air-vehicle availability rate for the United States' F-35 fleet was 51% in March 2023 and that the mission-capable rate was about 55%. The GAO also highlighted the estimated life-cycle cost of $1.7 trillion for the U.S.'s planned 2,500 F-35s in then-dollars, of which $1.3tr is associated with operating and sustaining the aircraft. That works out to $680m per jet, or about Kč 15.5bn in crowns. This is in the same ballpark as the Kč 400bn figure quoted recently in Parliament by Andrej Babiš for the 24 jets that Petr Fiala wants to buy. It's a lot of money, but Fiala can take some comfort in knowing that the army will only need about half as many F-35 pilots. [ Czech Republic advertisements Supreme ]

Glossary of difficult words

downtime - time during which a machine is out of action or unavailable for use;

availability - the quality of being able to be used or obtained;

air-vehicle availability rate - defined by the GAO as the number of aircraft capable of performing at least one mission divided by all aircraft, including those in a depot status or undergoing major repairs;

mission-capable rate - defined by the GAO as the percentage of time the aircraft can perform one of its tasked missions;

then-dollars - defined by the GAO as including the effects of inflation or escalation;

ballpark - an area or range within which an amount or estimate is likely to be correct;

to take comfort - to feel less worried or upset because of (something).

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