Maybe it went black, like... with a strike version to replace the F-117. Speculation is fun.
Going "black" would solve a lot of problems if you ask me.
I almost went on a rant about that in my previous post, so... here it is. In looking at various programs since the 1950s, it seems that the ones which garner the least amount of public attention seem to also be the ones most likely to come in on time and on budget (or at least something close to it), probably because they attract fewer cooks to spoil the broth as it were. This, of course, also includes the black programs.
Does anyone here honestly think that the SR-71, the F-117, or the B-2, would have ever made it into production under the scrutiny of grandstanding politicians, idiot reporters, and fanboys? Even programs that weren't secret seem to have done better when no one was paying attention. Of course, that was before the internet, when a couple of prototypes could crash without everyone wringing their hands.
I think that one of the main problems for the F-22 was publicity. The USAF couldn't resist using it as a recruitment gimmick, and LM couldn't resist using it for marketing. The high cost didn't help, but it was the publicity that made it into a lightning rod, subject to the latest political whim. Today, we're seeing the same thing with the F-35.
Honestly, I think things would be better off if everyone in the program would just shut their yaps, limiting their comments to, "the planes we have are getting old and will soon be outdated, so we're building new ones. If you don't like it, then remember that Mandarin is a category-5 language (the highest rating) in terms of difficulty for English speakers."