Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), along with a bipartisan group of 42 additional Senators, sent a letter last week to then-President-elect Obama, urging him to continue production of the F-22. “Permitting this production line to remain open will allow us to procure the appropriate number of F-22s to ensure our nation can achieve air dominance and effectively execute our national military strategy,” wrote Chambliss in a joint release with Murray on the Jan. 16 missive. Murray added, “At a time when we are looking to create jobs and stimulate the economy, eliminating the $12 billion in economic activity and thousands of American jobs tied to F-22 production simply doesn’t make sense.” The Senators call on Obama in the letter “to expeditiously certify” that continued production of the F-22 is in the economic and national interest of the nation. Per this fiscal year’s defense authorization act, Obama has until March 1 to inform Congress whether he intends to keep buying F-22s or shutter the line. The current program of record is 183 F-22s, although the Office of the Secretary of Defense is allowing the Air Force to purchase four more, with the funds to cover their cost expected to come from the next war supplemental. Congress has already allowed the procurement of advanced parts and materials this year for 20 more F-22s that would be built starting next year. But so far, OSD has only released funds for the long-lead parts for four.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.