Meager Raptor Savings or Sour Grapes?

Comptroller General David Walker of the Government Accountability Office told the Senate’s airland panel at Tuesday’s hearing that he still had “serious concerns” over the proposed F-22 multiyear buy, adding that GAO’s analysis indicated that stretching the production line would increase costs by $1.7 billion when compared with the Administration’s original plan to buy the remaining F-22s in two lots in the 2006 budget. (Read his written testimony here.) He added that the Air Force’s projected cost savings—2.7 percent of remaining procurement cost for 56 aircraft—is much lower than savings estimates for past multiyear programs. At this point, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) chimed in saying that compared with the amount of funding being allocated for the program the savings didn’t make sense. (Nelson also noted that all four Congressional defense committees had rejected the multiyear approach, only to be foiled on the Senate floor when an amendment approving a multiyear buy passed in a 70-28 vote.) Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne maintained that the projected savings “is comparable” to the per aircraft savings for the Navy’s F/A-18E/F multiyear program.