Closing Thoughts

The Air Force faces the decision as soon as next month on how to shutter the F-22 production line, according to two officials in the F-22 program office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Options range from closing down the line completely, which would preclude reconstitution, to retaining some tooling in storage for future repairs, F-22 life extensions, or even a line restart at some point for some additional cost, they told the Daily Report last week during an interview at the Ohio base. Vince Lewis, chief of capabilities planning and integration in the office, said reaching a decision in June is important since work for third- and fourth-tier suppliers is already drying up. Plus, that timeline would allow the decision to be reflected in the service’s Fiscal 2011 amended program objective memorandum, which the service currently is formulating, he said. Both he and Glenn Miller, a support contractor in the office, said the ultimate decision rests with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Air Force leadership. But at the program office level, “We are proposing that you at least keep enough tooling so that down the road, if you had damage, or you wanted to do something in terms of extending the life, you have got the tooling to work on this airplane,” explained Miller. He referred to this option as “shut down with restart capability” and characterized it as “kind of like an insurance policy for the nation.” Miller said the program office is working with F-22 prime contractor Lockheed Martin to identify the most cost-efficient manner to do this. (For more on Raptor shutdown scenarios, read F-22 Options Presented.)