The Lockheed Martin F-22 production line is dead — or is it?
As we all know by now, the US Senate voted yesterday to strike $1.75 billion for seven more F-22s, but that was only one version of the authorization bill. Senate appropriators will take up the issue next week, and support for the F-22 on the defense subcommittee remains strong. The House of Representatives has already added $360 million to buy long-lead parts for 12 F-22s.
This isn’t the first time the F-22 faced an existential threat. If Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had his way in 2004, funds to buy new F-22s would have finally dried up last year. The US Air Force avoided Rumsfeld’s budget axe by stretching a two-year production plan to three years, which is where we are today.
Ten years ago this week, the F-22 really looked dead. Rep Jerry Lewis, possibly waging a personal vendetta against perceived slights by Lockheed, shocked the US Air Force, Lockheed and — for that matter — everybody. Lewis proposed postponing the first production contract for F-22s by two years, which would have added about $6 billion to the program’s cost and essentially killed it. The House appropriators on the defense subcommittee went along with Lewis’ proposal, again shocking Eisenhower/McCain’s military-industrial-congressional complex.
The F-22 was ultimately saved at the eleventh hour three months later by the program’s powerful supporters in the US Senate, led by Senator Ted Stevens.
The moral of this story: Don’t bet against the F-22.
What happened after the F-22 died — in 1999
By Stephen Trimble on 22 July, 2009 in Uncategorised
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