October 25, 2007 (by Asif Shamim) - Flight International has reported that the US Air Force has proposed a purchase of perhaps 20 more Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptors. This will extend the production line by one year.
The Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne disclosed the USAF is seeking additional funds initially intended for closing the production line for the fighter next year. The money would instead be used to fund long-lead components and materials to build this batch of F-22s.
This is the latest attempt by the USAF to overturn programme cuts implimented by the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld back in 2005. The new proposal is being circulated within the Department of Defense as it compiles its budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009.
"Don't allow any open production line to close until we have stabilised our air force," Wynne told the lawmakers, pleading for their support.
The F-22 programme initially consisted of a purchase of 227 airframes. However as part of Rumsfeld defence reduction drive this was cut back to 179 airframes with the final one coming off the production line in FY 2008. The USAF insists it needs at least 381 F-22s to meet operational needs.
Lockheed Martin is due to deliver 20 F-22s a year between FY2009 to FY 2011, but new funding is required in the FY 2009 budget to keep the long-lead time on components going. The USAF’s budget per year for F-22 procurement is $3.6 Billion.