F-22, For the Record

Late last year, the F-22 was verbally trashed by Pentagon acquisition chief John Young, who charged that the Raptor wasn’t meeting key performance parameters and was turning in mission capable rates of only about 60 percent. Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin’s F-22 program manager, declined to rebut those remarks directly during an interview yesterday. However, he displayed a chart showing that the F-22 meets all KPPs and exceeds about half of them, including range, top speed, acceleration, and radar detection range. The aircraft’s mission capable rates are coming in around 70 percent—which is the Air Force’s overall fighter average—but they don’t have to meet that level until the aircraft reaches “maturity,” which is around 100,000 flight hours. Young dinged the F-22 for needing too much maintenance, but the program is on track to meet a specification that calls for three hours mean time between maintenance at maturity in 2010; it’s at 1.8 hours now. In exercises and simulations, the Raptor racks up a 30:1 kill ratio, vs. 3:1 for the F-35, and slightly better than 1:1 for the F-15. All other fourth-generation fighters in US service score a tossup against foreign fighters. Lawson also noted that the F-22 program received two performance awards from the Pentagon in 2008—the Secretary of Defense Performance-Based Logistics Award, and Collaborator of the Year.