Today, it's official: the Lockheed Martin F-22 production line will finally expire in June 2012, which, of course, means the company and its congressional allies have exactly four years and 11 months to contrive a reason to keep the program alive.
Anyone familiar with the ongoing saga of the Boeing C-17 production line knows that a major weapon system in hot production is like a cockroach in a mushroom cloud. It survives.
Time will only tell when the F-22 finally meets its fifth-generation fate. With the US Air Force still hoping to essentially double the orderbook to at least 380 and certain key allies asking for the Raptor's keys, there's still plenty of reason to believe that where there's a will, there's a ... well, you know. But with budget pressures and the small matter of the need to reconstruct the army and the marine corps in this pre-post-Iraq period, finding extra cash will be tricky.
"Er, remember Tiananmen?" Source: USAF