The last time DailyTech
discussed the USAF's F-22 Raptor in detail, the fighter was in the news due to
an International Date Line (IDL) bug. When a group of Raptors flying from
Hawaii to Japan crossed the IDL, multiple
computer systems crashed on the planes forcing them to rely on their
accompanying tankers to guide them to safety.
Today, the Raptors are in the news again -- but this time
it's not for something negative towards the plane itself. The Defense
Department is reportedly
making plans to extend the production of the F-22.
The original plan was to produce 183 F-22s at a cost of $132
million USD each. The last F-22 was to be delivered by the end of 2011.
The move to continue production of the F-22 beyond 2011
comes amid recent safety concerns over the 30+ year old F-15. A Missouri Air
National Guard F-15C crashed on November 2 during a routine training mission.
Early investigations suggested a structural failure as the direct cause of the
As a result, USAF grounded the entire
fleet of F-15s. "The whole fleet was already flying on flight
restrictions due to metal fatigue," said Lexington Institute military
analyst Loren Thompson in early November. "In this case, the planes that
are grounded are supposed to be America's top-of-the line air superiority
plane. These are the sinews of our global air dominance."
The planes were then put back into service on November 19
only to be recently
grounded again. All 442 of the USAFs F-15A, B, C and D aircraft were
grounded -- only the newest F-15E Strike Eagles remain cleared for regularly
Thompson noted that money is being squirreled away into the
fiscal 2009 budget to make room for additional F-22 aircraft after the last of
the originally planned 183 planes is built in 2011. The Air Force has requested
as many as 381 of the aircraft, but it's unlikely that the money being set
aside will allow for anywhere near that number of aircraft.