A House Armed Services panel has asked the U.S. Air Force to investigate an F-22 Raptor revival and fund an increase in the requested number of F-18 and F-35 fighters in its markup of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill.
In 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates halted the production line of Lockheed Martin where the F-22 Raptor was being produced. The decision came after 187 of the aircraft were made, citing the millions of dollars it cost to purchase each fighter jet. The number was far short to meet requirements of the Air Combat Command, which was looking at 381 fighters and the initial plan to buy 749.
In 2015, the U.S. Air Force deployments of the F-22 remained on the rise as a show of force against Russia, as well as a presence in the Asia-Pacific.
The provision now pending before the House Armed Services Committee adds legitimacy to start again the assembly line. The bill seeks an Air Force assessment of the actual costs of restarting production – considering the service’s future air superiority needs and its role in contested environments as well as plans to retire the F-15C, the potential to export the F-22 and lessons from past efforts to restart cold production lines. Sale of the F-22 to any other country is currently prohibited by law.
The draft of the bill also talks about funding for helicopters of many kinds – UH-60M Blackhawk, LUH-72 Lakota and AH-64E Apache. This is required so that the National Guard can keep four Apache battalions. The full committee is scheduled to consider this markup and drafts of legislation approved by the other HASC subcommittees on April 27.