The idea of restarting the F-22 production line gained some traction on Tuesday when Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee included a provision to study the issue in a draft version of the annual defense authorization bill.
I imagine thousands of employees at Lockheed Martin Corp., maker of the stealthy fifth-generation fighter, collectively perking up from behind their desks. After all, the Bethesda, Maryland-based company and world's largest defense contractor cranked out 187 of the twin-engine fighters at its production line in Marietta, Georgia, to the tune of some $67 billion.
Of course, that came to a sudden halt after then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2009 pushed to stop production of the aircraft in part to shift funding toward weapons and equipment needed for the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (The final aircraft was delivered a few years later in 2012.)
I wrote a longer story about the panel's F-22 proposal over at Military.com.
Meantime, here's a copy of the language included in the draft bill, or mark-up, released by panel's Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, headed by Rep. Mike Turner, a Republican from Ohio:
F-22 production restart assessment
The committee notes that production of the F-22 fifth-generation tactical aircraft concluded in 2009, and notes 187 aircraft were produced, far short of the initial program objective of 749 aircraft, as well as the Air Combat Command’s stated requirement of 381 aircraft. The committee also understands there has been interest within the Department of the Air Force, Department of Defense, and Congress in potentially restarting production of the F-22 aircraft. 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; 27 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;
(4) Historical lessons from past aircraft production restarts; and
(5) Any others matters that the Secretary deems relevant.