Export F-22 Still Open

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s air and land forces panel believes that the possibility of an export model of the F-22 coming to fruition remains “on the table,” but many of the factors, including the prohibitive Obey amendment, remain up in the air. “Yes, we’re taking a look at it,” Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) told defense reporters in Washington Thursday, because foreign sales “offers some very interesting possibilities for perhaps bringing down the cost per airplane.” However, an F-22 export version would require significant changes and the sales environment has changed. “The guarantees that these foreign sales are available to us are not necessarily as solid as they were before,” he explained. Abercrombie noted that Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) had added an amendment to the committee’s version of the Fiscal 2010 defense bill that would require a report from the Pentagon on the potential for sales of the aircraft to Japan—now the most likely customer for the fighter. The amendment, which carries a 30-day ticking clock after the defense bill becomes public law, would require details on the cost of developing an export version, its feasibility and timeframe, the strategic implications, impact of foreign sales on the US industrial base, and any changes to the law needed to proceed with the sale.