You knew it was coming. The Washington Post struck hard against the “I’m not dead yet!” F-22 last week. Now the combined forces of the US Air Force, Lockheed Martin and their media sympathizers have jumped to its defense.
This is a story about the F-22′s maintenance problems, and the pro-F-22 ELP’s Defens(c)e Blog puts this issue into a wider context.
What the Post really missed is that maintenance USAF wide is havingchallenges and not just one specific airframe. In the past severalyears with shortages of funds for just about everything, even simple tomaintain F-16s have lost up to 10 percent of their mission capable (MC)rates. If one is going to only criticize one USAF airframe they aremissing the big picture. Almost all USAF airframes have gone down in MCrates and not just due to age.
The Air Force Association’s house magazine dismissed the whole piece as a “Washington Post gut job” riddled with unnamed official sources. Instead, quoting response memos by the US Air Force and Lockheed Martin — okay, not exactly impartial sources — Air Force magazine says the F-22 fleet is on track to acheive an 85% mission capable rate after 100,000 hours. The F-22, moreover, has become less costly to maintain, even though the stealth coatings fail at half their expected lifetime, the magazine says.