Coming Soon

The Air Force plans to issue a request for proposals this summer to shut down the F-22 production line, two seniors service generals said March 11. Barring additional orders, Lockheed Martin will begin to shutter the Raptor line in November. If more aircraft will be ordered, then time is of the essence to avoid a costly break in production. If no additional Raptors will be bought, then USAF must begin to program termination costs. “In either case, we are at a critical crossroad: We must make a decision by November to avoid increased costs and a break in the production line before our suppliers begin to exit the market,” writes Lt. Gen. Daniel Darnell, head of plans and requirements on the Air Staff, and Lt. Gen. Donald Hoffman, military deputy for acquisition, in a joint statement to the House Armed Service air and land forces and seapower and expeditionary forces panels. The Defense Department intends to seek four additional F-22s in a Fiscal 2009 emergency war spending bill—bringing USAF’s total buy to 187. The Air Force would like to continue buying more F-22s, since its requirement remains at 381 Raptors, but it has not been authorized to do so. However, OSD has not directed the termination of the production line in its Fiscal 2009 budget request to Congress, instead opting to preserve the choice for the next Administration. USAF anticipates that it would need $40 million in Fiscal 2009 to go toward shutdown costs, the two generals stated. This would be just the first increment of a bill that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions. The Air Force has tasked Rand Corp. to explore the costs and feasibility of restarting the line after shutdown.