Great news from Politico. (H/T ECM)
The Air Force will hang on to its F-22 tooling at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Ga., production plant even after it stops making the fifth generation fighter jet in 2012, according to Flight International’s Stephen Trimble. Though the Air Force has said in the past the goal would be to provide a long-time service plan for the jets, “the decision also implicitly preserves the option to restart production if future administrations decide that the USAF needs more than 186 F-22s,” Trimble writes.
The Weekly Standard explains:
The Air Force originally planned for 750 Raptors — at the time called the Advanced Tactical Fighter — as a replacement for the venerable F-15 Eagle. Strategic shifts, like the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the infantry-heavy war on terrorism, steadily decreased the fleet’s planned end-strength until Congress settled on 187 airframes in 2006.
As Russia and China continue their steady defense buildups and America’s aging fighter fleet continues to decay, the need for the “finest fighter jet ever built” only grows. Keeping that Lockheed assembly line open may seem like mundane news today. But it could end up saving the military big bucks down the line, as the peer threat looms larger.
Now that the JSF is facing substantial delays and rising costs, we need to have the option of restarting production on the F-22 when Obama loses in 2012. This is really important. We need to keep our edge in the sky. There are bad people in the world who threaten peace, prosperity and liberty. We need to make them believe that any aggression they consider will be costly. We need to deter aggression.