Congress considering restart of F-22 program

The House Armed Services Committee is currently reviewing a classified report it ordered last year on restarting production of the F-22 Raptor.
By Stephen Carlson  |  June 21, 2017 at 1:49 PM
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June 21 (UPI) -- The House Armed Services Committee is currently reviewing a classified report it ordered last year on restarting production of the F-22 Raptor, according to a spokesperson for the committee.

"I can confirm that we received the report and are reviewing it," HASC spokesman Barron Youngsmith told UPI, declining to comment further due to the classified nature of the review.

Last April, the committee asked the Department of Defense what it would take to restart F-22 production and build 194 new fighters, which would bring the total fleet size to the Air Force's original requirement of 381 Raptors.

HASC chairman Mac Thornberry and others in Congress argued that Secretary of Defense Bob Gates reasons for canceling the program in 2009 -- that they were inappropriate for the wars the United States was engaged in -- no longer applied.

But Thornberry says a resurgent Russia and rising China must be countered with different and more advanced weapons than insurgents and militias in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some estimates indicate it could take up to five years or longer for the new planes to start being delivered, and would cost additional tens of billions for modernization efforts. Factories used to build the F-22 have already been retooled for other uses, and Lockheed Martin's facilities capable of manufacturing stealth fighters would need expansion to accommodate both F-22 and F-35 production.

The F-22 is a 5th generation stealth air-superiority fighter with ground attack capabilities and is one of the most advanced fighters in the world. Cost overruns and the low-tech adversaries the U.S. was facing in Iraq and Afghanistan lead Gates to cancel the program after 187 aircraft were produced.

The F-22 has deployed to flashpoints like Eastern Europe and the Southwest Pacific as a deterrent, and has patrolled over Syrian air space recently as part of coalition operations there.

The Air Force declined to immediately comment on the report or the F-22 program.

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