End of the Line

Barring something unforeseen, the Air Force has ordered its last F-22s. On Oct. 29, the service let a $474 million contract to Lockheed Martin for the four F-22s that will constitute Lot 10 production and complete the program of record for 187 airframes based on current planning. Factoring the one production-version F-22 lost in a crash in 2004, the Air Force will have a force of 186 F-22s, smaller than ideal. Defense Secretary Robert Gates convinced Congress this year that the nation needs to stop buying F-22s and concentrate instead on bringing the F-35 into the inventory—even though, by the Pentagon’s own admission, the latter aircraft still may face some setbacks along the way. (For more on how the Air Force will use this smaller F-22 fleet, read The New Playbook from the September issue of Air Force Magazine.)