F-22 Shutdown Costs Under Review

Rand Corp. is exploring on behalf of the Air Force the costs and feasibility of restarting the F-22 production line after plant shutdown, USAF spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jennifer Cassidy tells the Daily Report. The results of the study should be available in the next several months, she said March 6. When asked about the cost impact of a production line break in general terms, Cassidy said it would depend on the duration of the break. “Once Lockheed Martin suppliers begin shutdown activities, there is a high likelihood that some components would need to be redesigned and new suppliers would have to be qualified to deal with diminishing manufacturing source issues,” she said. The Air Force is in the final year of a multiyear procurement contract with Lockheed. The company will produce 20 F-22s in Fiscal 2008 to round out the three-year, 60-aircraft deal, thereby completing the Air Force’s currently authorized buy of 183 Raptors. There is no funding included in the service’s Fiscal 2009 budget request to buy more F-22s, although OSD also did not order the line to be shuttered, but rather preserved the option for the next generation to decide. Based on the current F-22 production schedule, Lockheed will begin to shut down the production line in November 2008. OSD has said it plans to include a request for four additional F-22s in Fiscal 2009 supplemental war appropriations, but these extra aircraft really would only add several months to the line, Lockheed officials have said, meaning the new Administration would still be faced with the decision right after assuming office. Already key lawmakers have voiced support for keeping the line open. Included in USAF’s Fiscal 2009 unfunded requirements list are requests for the four Raptors and advanced procurement dollars for 20 additional Raptors.