01 April 1998


Pentagon Spokesman Ken Bacon briefed.



Q: I want to follow up on the discussion last week about the F-22. We
were told here last week that the test program for the F-22 would be
accelerated before a production decision is made at the end of the

On Friday the Air Force said there is no plan to accelerate the test
program. Can you clarify that situation for us?

A: I talked to the Air Force about that, and without having my last
week's transcript in front of me, I said there was an opportunity to
accelerate the program and it could be accelerated.

My understanding is that the F-22 testing has been interrupted
because, one reason was that, the last plane they flew was flown in
Georgia. They took it apart. They transported it in a dismantled form
by C-5 out to Edwards Air Force Base, I guess, in California or Nellis
or some place where they're going to test it in the West. And they're
putting the thing back together, and they should start testing again
in April, I believe.

I had a long discussion with the head of the F-22 program earlier this
week or late last week, and it was my impression that one of the
things they may be able to do is to fly it more frequently and
accelerate the testing. Whether they've decided to do that, I can't
say at this stage.

Q: Can you tell us what you said about how much they can accelerate,
given that they, by their own plans, only have two airplanes

A: I can't tell you that, no.

Q: You just characterized the F/A-18 as running ahead of schedule and
below budget, and they're certainly flying those planes a great deal.
How would you contrast or how would you compare the F/A-18 with the
F-22 program?

A: One is 1970s or '80s technology and one is 21st Century technology.

Q:  (inaudible)

A: No, I didn't say that at all. I think we're talking about entirely
different generations of airplanes. I think that basically the
F/A-18E/F is a modification to a plane that's been in the fleet for
some time. The F-22 is a totally new airplane. It has stealth
characteristics. It has a new design. And it's a plane that the Air
Force believes is going quite well. And one of the... There are
several reasons for that. One goes back to a point I made earlier that
the Pentagon has tried to change the way in which it designs and
builds major weapons. Much more of this has been able to be done by
computer, in wind tunnels, through new design techniques than in the
past. The Air Force also thinks that there is a certain amount of
testing that can take the place of actual flight testing. Obviously
you can't replace flight testing and they're not trying to replace
flight testing, but there has been an awful lot of wind tunnel
testing, there's been a lot of avionics testing, and a lot of sort of
computerized testing of the plane at every stage of its development.

Planes now are made sort of like automobiles. They're made all over
the place. They're rarely made in just one plant where you start from
some metal and turn it into an airplane. The wings are made one place,
and they're married with the fuselages made in another place. The
avionics come in from other parts of the country. And that's the way
this plane is being assembled, and computerization is one of the
things that helps all this stuff fit together the way it's planned to

I talked to Brigadier General Carlson about this, and he was quite
confident that the program was going well.


(end transcript)