Procurement: August 23, 2001


The Air Force, which previously delayed the start of operational testing for the F-22 Raptor from August to December 2002, now says this cannot start until April (and maybe October) 2003. The problem is delays in receiving the first aircraft which are to conduct these tests. Even with this delay, the Air Force says it can deploy the fighters on schedule in December 2005. The problem (as always) is the Raptor's budget. The Air Force needs Congress to give them extra funds to cover the costs of the test delays. Since the only way to do it under the current budget is to not do some of the testing, Congress is likely to agree to that, but still balks at the expected $2 billion overrun above the "cap" of $37.6 billion for the production phase. The Air Force wants to increase the number of Raptors from 339 to over 400 and use the extra planes for ground attack missions.--Stephen V Cole


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