House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Randy Forbes, with the help of former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, is keeping the drumbeat going to restart the F-22 production line. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, the two urge a reconsideration of the decision taken by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2009 to halt F-22 production at 187.
The piece in WSJ came after legislative action earlier in April. The House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee inserted language in its National Defense Authorization Act markup directing the Air Force to analyze the real costs of restarting the F-22 production line, some of which is excerpted below:
“In light of growing threats to U.S. air superiority as a result of adversaries closing the technology gap and increasing demand from allies and partners for high-performance, multi-role aircraft to meet evolving and worsening global security threats, the committee believes that such proposals are worthy of further exploration.
Therefore, the committee directs the Secretary of the Air Force to conduct a comprehensive assessment and study of the costs associated with resuming production of F-22 aircraft and provide a report to the congressional defense committees, not later than January 1, 2017, on the findings of this assessment. The committee expects the report to be unclassified, but may contain a classified annex.
Further, the committee directs that the assessment and report consider and address the following:
(1) Anticipated future air superiority capacity and capability requirements, based on anticipated near-term and mid-term threat projections, both air and ground; evolving F-22 missions and roles in anti-access/area-denial environments; F-15C retirement plans and service-life extension programs; estimated next-generation aircraft initial operating capability dates; and estimated end-of-service timelines for existing F-22As;
(2) Estimated costs to restart F-22 production, including the estimated cost of reconstituting the F-22 production line, and the time required to achieve low-rate production; the estimated cost of procuring another 194 F-22 aircraft to meet the requirement for 381 aircraft; and the estimated cost of procuring sufficient F-22 aircraft to meet other requirements or inventory levels that the Secretary may deem necessary to support the National Security Strategy and address emerging threats;
(3) Factors impacting F-22 restart costs, including the availability and suitability of existing F-22A production tooling; the estimated impact on unit and total costs of altering the total buy size and procuring larger and smaller quantities of aircraft; and opportunities for foreign export and partner nation involvement if section 8118 of the Defense Appropriations Act, 1998 (Public Law 105-56) prohibiting export of the F-22 were repealed;