Like the C-17 (see above), the DOD has opted to let the next Administration decide the fate of F-22 production. USAF’s Fiscal 2009 budget proposal includes no money to procure additional Raptors beyond the 183-aircraft program of record or to shut down the F-22 production line. Instead, the budget proposal provides almost $4.1 billion for the Raptor program, about $3.4 billion of which funds the final tranche of 20 Raptors under the current three-year multiyear procurement that brings the Air Force’s total buy to 183. “Because of that 20” and the potential for some additional Raptors to be purchased in Fiscal 2009 using emergency wartime supplemental appropriations, “there was no reason to program shutdown costs in FY ’09,” Vice Adm. Steve Stanley, director of Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment for the Joint Staff, told reporters during a Feb. 4 briefing on the new budget. “It also has the advantage of leaving a decision about F-22 to the next Administration, which will have to execute the program either way it goes.” (For more on the F-22, read Holding Pattern).
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.