Air Force to get six F-22s in 2002
Released: 17 Nov 1999
by Staff Sgt. Cynthia Miller
Air Force Print News
WASHINGTON -- The Air Force will acquire six test F-22 aircraft in 2002 with funds provided by Congress in the budget resolution passed Oct. 5.
In the resolution, Congress delayed production of the F-22 from December 1999 to December 2000, and cut funding by $560 million to make the Air Force justify the F-22's cost and prove its technology.
Instead of getting six production aircraft to complete operational testing, the Air Force will now receive six test aircraft.
"These six airplanes will be operational test and evaluation airplanes, because they come from research and development funds, but they will be production airplanes," said Maj. Gen. Claude Bolton, executive officer for fighter and bomber programs.
"You won't be able to tell the difference between what that aircraft will look like in a year or two, vice what it was going to look like before we had to change the 'color' of money," he said.
With an aging fleet of F-15s, and the ability of adversaries and allies to match technology, the Air Force has embarked on a modernization program to maintain its edge on military strength and air dominance.
According to Bolton, the F-15 is on par with four other aircraft, including the Russian MiG-29 and MiG-35, the French Mirage 2000 and the Euro-fighter.
"There's only so much you can do after 30 years with an air frame," the general said. "We've had a 100.5-to-zero kill ratio with the (F-15). We've not lost any F-15s to enemy fire. That's obviously something we want to continue into the next century."
The Air Force plans to buy 339 F-22 aircraft to replace the F-15 fleet. Bolton said he expects the F-22 to give the United States the edge in air dominance for the next 30 years or more.
The F-22 is designed to face modern adversarial aircraft equipped with advanced air-to-air missile systems and against integrated air defense systems with improved surface-to-air missiles.
"That is a threat we have not faced yet with the F-15," Bolton said. "And we don't want to, because the results would not be good.
"What will allow us to face that threat is the F-22. That's what it was designed to do. So we'll be able to continue what we've enjoyed, which is air dominance. That's not just going up and controlling part of the sky, but going up and totally dominating the air battle to the point where if someone does come up, they know we can take them down."
The six F-22s, slated for delivery in 2002, will cost the Air Force nearly $85 million per plane, and will be based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
"The F-22 is an essential investment to achieve air dominance. It is the key enabler for 21st century combat operations," Bolton said.
"The reason the Air Force is pushing so hard on this aircraft is that it is truly a cornerstone for us," the general said. "If we don't control the air, we cannot protect AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System); we cannot protect Joint STARS; we cannot protect other force packages; and consequently, we can't help our colleagues on the ground or on the water."