Four Won’t Do It:

The four additional F-22s appearing in the Air Force’s unfunded requirements list for Fiscal 2009—and expected to be in a wartime supplemental budget request to Congress next fiscal year—won’t help much in giving the incoming Administration time to decide whether to continue producing the aircraft in greater numbers, Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin’s F-22 program manager, said Friday. In an interview during AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Lawson said suppliers of long-lead parts will have no more work starting in November of this year. The four aircraft would buy just two more months of production, he said, meaning the Raptor production line would begin to shut down in February 2009, just days after a new Administration comes into office. That hardly leaves time for a thorough analysis of air dominance requirements. To really buy time for further consideration, Lawson said Congress would have to add even more aircraft to the 2009 budget; preferably at least 20, which is the annual number the company has been building under its current three-year, 60-aircraft multiyear contract that will complete Air Force’s current program of record for 183 F-22s. USAF has maintained it has a requirement for 381 Raptors. Its Fiscal 2009 unfunded list also includes a request for funds to cover the procurement of long-lead materials and parts for a lot of 20 F-22s beyond the 183/187 number. (For more on the F-22, read No Going Back)