R. Jeffrey Smith writes today in The Washington Post that the F-22 “has major shortcomings”. The US Air Force says the F-22 costs $44,259 to fly one hour, compared to $30,818 for the F-15. An unnamed “critic” in the Department of Defense calls the F-22′s maintenance problems a “disgrace”. The reporter connects Darrol Olsen’s allegations — first reported on this blog — with a series of operational test and evaluation reports criticizing the F-22′s stealth coatings.
Smith also buries a major scoop about the March 25 crash of an F-22 six miles north of Harpers Dry Lake, California, which killed Lockheed test pilot David Cooley.
The Air Force has declined to discuss the cause, but a classifiedinternal accident report completed the following month states that theplane flew into the ground after poorly executing a high-speed run withits weapons-bay doors open, according to three government officialsfamiliar with its contents. The Lockheed test pilot died.
Several sources said the flight was part of a bid to make the F-22relevant to current conflicts by giving it a capability to conductprecision bombing raids, not just aerial dogfights. The Air Force isstill probing who should be held accountable for the accident.