There appears to be a standoff between Pentagon acquisition officials and Lockheed Martin with the company raising the spectre of F-22 production shutdown costs that are higher than buying additional aircraft and the Defense Secretary’s office demanding lower units costs if there is to be a chance of any additional purchases.
Following the Obama Administration’s decision this week not to certify further F-22 production until April at the earliest, Pentagon acquisition chief John Young signed an Acquisition Decision Memorandum March 3 for the stealth fighter program. It continues what is described by Pentagon specialists with insight into the program as Young’s stance of “keeping all the President’s options open.”
Those options include stopping F-22 production at 183 and using congressionally approved long-lead money to shut down the production line, releasing long-lead money to start building the next 20 aircraft (184-203) or approving production of another 60 (for a total of 243) fighters as desired by the U.S. Air Force. Air Force officials say they are finding diminished support for all the additional 60 fighters and expect the Obama White House to approve production of the first 20 while deferring additional production decisions for another year. That would mean the long-lead money would not be used to shut down the line. The Air Force’s F-22 program office forwarded the memo to Lockheed Martin March 4. Acquisition specialists are now studying its implications