A SPECIAL US Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) meeting on 29 January will decide whether to endorse a memorandum of agreement signed by the US Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney on restructuring the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 programme.

The agreement is based on recommendations from the F-22 Joint Cost Estimate Team (JET) on stretching development and reducing production costs (Flight International, 1-7 January).

F-22 programme general manager Tom Burbage says that the industry team has agreed to invest $140 million in production enhancements which are expected to offset the effect of inflation "-.and give the Air Force a zero-growth production programme". Inflation was the major factor in the $13 billion production-cost growth projected by the JET.

Burbage says that the team has also agreed to invest $120 million in an integrated hardware-in-loop avionics test (IHAT) centre, in return for being given contractor logistic-support of the avionics. The IHAT is required for depot-level support of the F-22 avionics, but will be used during development to reduce risk.

Burbage says that the initiatives are expected to reduce the flyaway cost of the F-22 "by a couple of million" below the current figure of $71 million in 1990 dollars. He also does not expect the development programme to require all of the additional time and money added by the JET. Burbage says that the JET restructured the development programme because it believed that it would take longer than estimated to coat the stealthy aircraft, and to test the highly integrated avionics. He says the team plans to stay with its original "aggressive" schedule, while holding the JET schedule as a reserve against unforeseen delays.

Assembly of the first F-22 is "on track" for a first flight on 29 May, Burbage says. Other tests are progressing, including escape-system sled testing and canopy birdstrike testing. A birdstrike test is to be repeated after the canopy failed because of a manufacturing flaw. Testing of a full-scale F-22 pole model at Lockheed Martin's Helendale, California, radar-cross-section measurement range is "meeting or exceeding" requirements, he says.


Source: Flight International