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F-22 production restructured as overruns slow development

THE US AIR Force is to restructure the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 programme because of a development-cost overrun of more than $2 billion. Four pre-production verification (PPV) F-22s have been eliminated, and production ramp-up has been slowed to provide the $2.16 billion in extra funding required to complete the $18.7 billion engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) programme.

The PPV aircraft were to have been used for the USAF's initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E). Now the last two of nine EMD aircraft and the first two low-rate initial production (LRIP) F-22s will be used for IOT&E. Eliminating the PPV phase will save $706 million.

Another $1.45 billion will be saved by slowing the ramp-up of production during the LRIP. Instead of producing 76 aircraft between 1999 and 2002, Lockheed Martin/Boeing will now build 70 F-22s over five years. Although the EMD has been extended by nine months, to June 2003, to "complete flight testing", F-22 initial operational capability is still planned for November 2004.

Faced with a potential $13 billion overrun on the 438-aircraft production phase, the USAF and F-22 industry team have agreed initiatives to reduce unit costs and keep the programme within the overall budget. Modelled on the strategy used successfully to bring down production costs on the McDonnell Douglas C-17, these include multi-year contracting.

Industry has agreed to build an integrated hardware-in-loop avionics test rig which will be used during flight tests, but will also be part of the F-22 depot-level maintenance centre.

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