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F-22 programme deemed low-risk

A US DEFENCE SCIENCE Board (DSB) task force concludes that the Lockheed Martin/ Boeing F-22 programme schedule sets an acceptable overlap of research and production.

The task force's report runs counter to a US General Accounting Office (GAO) study which urges slowing F-22 production because of associated risks (Flight International, 3-9 May).

The US Air Force plans to buy 442 F-22s, worth $70 billion. The next-generation air-superiority fighter, powered by the Pratt & Whitney F119 engine, incorporates major advances, including stealth, super-cruise, vectored thrust and integrated avionics.

The DSB task force calls it "a very ambitious, challenging programme, probably the most technically challenging programme in recent times". The report concludes that the critical juncture is the ramp-up in production, from four to 12 aircraft a year.

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