Editor’s Note: Not surprising, as we alluded to before. While a new batch of F-22s would be absolutely welcome in Air Combat Command’s ranks, it just doesn’t look like it’s in the cards. It’s a crushing realization; we simply didn’t build enough of them. The Air Force is look at it from an expense standpoint, and the fact they want the Next Generation Air Dominance fighter ready sooner rather than later. That will really put the Air Force’s acquisitions mechanism to the test, as we simply cannot afford for new aircraft to take ten or fifteen years from concept to production.

The service’s deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements said as much during a congressional hearing on 8 March, suggesting that fighter jet manufacturers like Boeing, Northrop Grumman or Lockheed Martin may decide to offer modifications to existing technologies and platforms in the next F-X competition.

“Because we want to do it faster and don’t want to do another 20-year development programme for a whole host of reasons, we’ll try and go with technology that are at a high readiness level now with manufacturing capabilities that are at a high readiness level now,” Lt Gen James Holmes tells a Senate Armed Services subcommittee panel in response to questions about restarting F-22 production.

USAF: F-22 Production Will Not Be Restarted
The second of the first two F-35As to arrive at Hill Air Force Base sits on the ramp, with the base control tower looming in the background. (Photo by Scott Wolff)

“I think it’s completely possible as we get the requirements that there may be competitors that bid on modification of an existing technology or platform like the F-22 and the F-35.”

Industry sources tell FlightGlobal that there has been a lot of interest within the Pentagon recently about the restarting F-22 assembly. However, air force leaders have repeatedly denied seeking rough-order-of-magnitude cost estimates for procuring more F-22s and instead point to future fighter concepts as the best way forward.

The 187th and last twin-engine Raptor rolled off the assembly line in Marietta, Georgia in December 2011, but the manufacturing equipment was stored for possible use later.

The original article can be viewed in its entirety at Flight Global here.

(Featured photo by Jonathan Derden)