WASHINGTON - The U.S. Air Force was flying a bit
higher Thursday, lifted by the Pentagon's approval for limited
production of Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor, the expensive stealth jet
fighter scheduled to replace the service's aging F-15s beginning in
Friday, Aug. 17, 2001
The Defense Aquisition Board earlier this week
gave the green light for 295 of the planes, which carry a pricetag of
more than $200 million each. The production run was cut from 331.
Lockheed Martin, in conjunction with Boeing and
Pratt & Whitney, can now proceed with building 10 of the planes with
fiscal 2001 funds. Thirteen more will be built with fiscal 2002 funds.
The first 10 produced will cost the Defense Department more than $2
"The Air Force is pleased with the
Department of Defense decision," Air Force spokeswoman Gloria Cales
told United Press International. "We need to get this aircraft into
production; America needs this aircraft to maintain air superiority well
into the 21st century."
The F-22 Raptor has been touted as cutting edge
technology - stealth capability, supersonic speed cruise ability,
integrated avionics, all-weather day-and-night operability and superb
agility to dominate the battlefields of the future.
The aircraft developed at the Aeronautical
Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, first took to
the air in 1997. Eight models have been produced so far for testing.
Pete Aldridge, the undersecretary for Defense
for Aquisition, technology and logistics, said law-rate production would
run through fiscal 2005 and would thens be changed to a higher
"The F-22 is not worth $237 million a
copy, especially when its predecessor, the F-15, can be purchased for
$50 million a piece," one critic of the project said.
Copyright 2001 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.
Pentagon OKs Production of F-22s
August 16 , 2001 - Washington, Pentagon.
The Pentagon has given the Air Force the go-ahead to begin the first production run of F-22 Raptors, the stealth fighter meant to replace the F-15 Strike Eagle, officials said Wednesday.
The decision, which has not been announced publicly, includes an Air Force pledge to put an additional $5.4 billion into the program, reflecting projected cost increases, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Air Force also agreed to reduce the total number of F-22s to 295 from 339, the officials said. If the per-plane production cost is lower than the Pentagon estimates, then the Air Force may be allowed to build more than 295. The Air Force believes the Pentagon's cost estimate is too high.
The Pentagon decision is for what it calls "low-rate initial production," which amounts to 13 F-22s. The next step would be for the Pentagon to give the go-ahead for full-rate production, the officials said.
The plane's builder Lockheed Martin Corp., has built seven F-22s for test purposes. Five are at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and one is at Lockheed's plant at Marietta, Ga. The seventh has been retired. Three more test aircraft are to be delivered to the Air Force by the end of the year.
The decision to go ahead with the initial production run was made by a special review board headed by Pete Aldridge, the under secretary of defense for acquisition and technology. The board met Tuesday.
Also that day, Air Force Secretary James G. Roche urged that the F-22 move into production despite cost overruns.
"It works. It works, gang," he told a group of reporters. He noted that the program has been in development for two decades. "It's time to get on with it."
Early this month, the General Accounting Office reported that production of 339 of the planes would cost from $2 billion to $9 billion more than the $37.6 billion Congress specified as the cap for the program.
The GAO has said that in order for the Air Force to stay within the $37.6 billion cap, it would have to reduce its order by 85 planes, down to 248, if the higher cost is correct and projected savings are not realized.
Some lawmakers suggested that the predictions of potential cost overruns - the lower one by the Air Force and the higher one by the office of the secretary of defense - put the Air Force's purchasing plans at risk.
Last week, officials said seven-inch cracks had been found by X-ray in the tail of one of the six F-22 test planes, but that the cause had not been determined.