And the Air Force’s Take

The Air Force also objected to the Washington Post’s loose interpretation of F-22 statistics, and the paper’s portrait of the fighter as overly expensive, unreliable, and ineffective (see above). Generally, according to USAF’s analysis of the article, the Post either used outdated data or exaggerated problems that have long since been corrected. The Post quoted a variety of F-22 glitches from Government Accountability Office reports issued seven years ago, when the F-22 was still in development. In a four-page rebuttal provided to the Daily Report of 23 claims the Post made in its hatchet job on the F-22, the Air Force dismissed the Post’s claim that the F-22’s stealthy skin maintenance issues are somehow due to rain, and the service said that the Post was wrong in saying the trend is that F-22 has gotten harder and more costly to maintain. “Not true,” the service said. The rates “have been improving.” The Air Force said the Raptor’s cost per flying hour is not much greater than that of the F-15—$19,750 vs. $17,465—and the F-22 is a far more powerful and capable machine. The Post had claimed a cost of more than $40,000 per flying hour. Likewise, whereas the Post claimed the fleet had to be retrofitted due to “structural problems,” this claim is “misleading,” USAF said. Lessons learned from a static test model were applied to production of new aircraft and retrofitted to earlier aircraft; a normal part of the testing and development process. One problem the Air Force owned up to: The F-22 canopy’s stealth coatings last only about half as long as they’re supposed to. The service said the program has put some fixes into play and “coating life continues to improve.” The Air Force also confirmed Lockheed’s contention that the mission capable rate had risen over the years to 68 percent fleetwide today.