Congress has asked Air Force bosses to look at the possibilty of restarting the F-22 raptor productions line – five years after it was shut down.
In its review of the 2017 defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee asked service leaders to look into what it would take to build 194 new Raptors, enough to finally meet the Air Force’s long-stated requirement of 381 jets.
It comes amid mounting problems for the disastrous F-35 programme, which most recently suffered flaws with its electronic ‘brain’ that could see the fleet grounded.
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The F-22s are almost impossible to detect on radar and are so advanced that the U.S. Congress has banned Lockheed Martin from selling them abroad
HASC chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and others now say the world has changed since 2009, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates halted the F-22 program at 187 aircraft in order to double down on the multirole F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, according to Defense One.
‘We’ve seen both Russia and China develop airplanes faster than was anticipated,’ Air Force Lt. Gen. James Holmes, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, told the Senate Armed Services Committee at a March 8 hearing.
It comes as two highly of the advanced US fighter jets flew to Romania on Monday in a show of strength to deter Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
The F-22 Raptor fighter jets with sophisticated sensors allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected landed at the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in southeast Romania.
Two US F-22 Raptor fighter jets with sophisticated sensors allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected flew to Romania on Monday as a show of strength against Russia
|Role||Air Superiority / Multi-purpose fighter|
|Engines||2 P&W F119-PW-100 turbo fans|
|Thrust||35,000 pounds x2|
|Wingspan||44 feet 6 inches|
|Length||62 feet 1 inch|
|Height||16 feet 8 inches|
|Ceiling||Above 50,000 feet|
|Armaments||One M61A2 20-millimeter cannon with 480 rounds|
|Side Weapons Bay||Two AIM-9 heat seeking missiles|
|Air-to-air load (Internal Weapons Bay)||Six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles|
|Air-to-ground load (Internal Weapons Bay)||Two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles|
President Barack Obama promised in 2014 to bolster the defenses of NATO’s eastern members, unnerved by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and the Kremlin’s backing for pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.
Making more Raptors would be expensive, Defense One says.
‘Two years before Lockheed shuttered the F-22’s final assembly line, a RAND study calculate that restarting production to build 75 new jets would cost $17 billion. Adjust for inflation and boost production to 194 Raptors, and the total price tag likely approaches $30 billion.’
The new jets would also need improved electronics – although experts agree its design is sound.
Logistically, it would also need a new factory.
There were more than 1,000 F-22 suppliers from firms in 44 states, according to the Congressional Research Service. Lockheed said 25,000 jobs were directly tied to the project.
After the final F-22 was delivered to the Air Force in early 2012, all of the tooling and structures were packed up and sent to the Sierra Army Depot, in northeast California near the Nevada border.
‘All in all, if the Air Force study recommends restarting production, and somehow the money is found, the design updated, the supply chain rebuilt, the production spaces reconstituted, and a new workforce trained up, the new Raptors would not arrive until after 2020,’ Defense One concluded.
Russia-backed separatists have been fighting government troops in Ukraine since April 2014, leaving at least 9,100 dead.
THE F-35 JOINT STRIKER’s BRAIN ISSUES
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been hailed as the ‘most expensive weapon in history.’
But despite a price tag of $400 billion for 2,457 planes, the fifth-generation fighter has been plagued with issues.
Now, a new report says problems with its logistics software system could ground the entire fleet.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been hailed as the ‘most expensive weapon in history.’ But despite a price tag of $400 billion for 2,457 planes, the fifth-generation fighter has been plagued with issues. Pictured is a F-35B aircraft prepares for a landing at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona
The issue is with what the Department of Defense officials call the ‘brains’ of plane, also known as the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS).
A Government Accountability Office report says a failure ‘could take the entire fleet offline’ because there is no backup system.
The report also says a lack of testing done of the software will mean it’s not ready for its deployment by the Air Force in August and the Navy in 2018.
The conflict has left many neighboring countries in Central and Eastern Europe jittery about Russia’s intentions in the region.
U.S. Ambassador Hans G. Klemm blamed ‘the aggression by Russia’ for bringing ‘so much instability to this part of the world over the past two to three years’.
‘We’re here today to demonstrate our capability to take the F-22 anywhere needed in NATO or across Europe. We want to … actually fly the aircraft and train with our NATO allies,’ said Squadron commander Daniel Lehoski.
President Barack Obama (left) promised in 2014 to bolster NATO’s eastern members, unnerved by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea (right, Vladimir Putin)
The F-22s are almost impossible to detect on radar and are so advanced that the U.S. Congress has banned Lockheed Martin from selling them abroad. The U.S. has deployed 12 of them at a British base in eastern England.
‘The increased size of the 2016 deployment … allows U.S. Forces to assert their presence more widely across the eastern frontier,’ said U.S. Air Force spokeswoman Major Sheryll Klinkel.
‘We want to be able to operate out of multiple locations. We want to be able to keep our adversary guessing where we’re going to go next.’
Last week, a USS Donald Cook (pictured on April 12) sailed near Russia’s border in the Baltics, prompting accusations of intimidation as Russia warned their military would respond to future incidents
Secretary of State John Kerry said the Navy ship could have opened fire on the Russian military jets that buzzed around it (pictured, A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft makes a very low altitude pass by USS Donald Cook)
The West is seeking to strengthen the defenses of its eastern flank and reassure eastern European NATO members – such as Poland, the Baltic states and Czech republic which spent decades under Soviet dominance – without provoking the Kremlin by stationing large forces permanently.
The US fighter jets, which arrived from Britain, will leave Romania later Monday. They are part of the Operation Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. commitment to NATO’s collective security and regional stability.
Tensions are rising and Russia says the NATO build-up is stoking a dangerous situation.
Just last week, a US naval destroyer USS Cook sailed near Russia’s border in the Baltics, prompting accusations of intimidation as Russia warned their military would respond with ‘all necessary measures’ to any future incidents.
The United States has said the guided missile destroyer was on routine business near Poland when it was harassed by Russian jets.
‘We were in international waters,’ a NATO diplomat reported Lute as telling Grushko during the NATO-Russia council meeting.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the Navy ship could have opened fire on the Russian military jets that buzzed around it.
Speaking after a meeting between NATO envoys and Russia, their first in almost two years, Moscow’s ambassador to NATO said the April 11 maritime incident showed there could be no improvement in ties until the US-led alliance withdrew from Russia’s borders.
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