The Pentagon collected its final F-22 Raptor from Lockheed Martin Corp. four years ago. Amid the Cold War’s end and shrinking defense budgets, the most advanced fighter jet ever built was deemed both unnecessary and unaffordable.
Now, Congress has ignited a flicker of hope for fans of the pricey plane. A House subcommittee asked the U.S. Air Force to investigate what it would cost to put the tactical fighter back into production. By many accounts, no other aircraft can match the F-22’s range of capabilities—many of which remain classified—for speed, agility, stealth, and battlefield sensor power. With 183 in service, a reboot could mean, theoretically, the delivery of 194 additional planes that were planned before the program was canceled. But at roughly $67 billion, the F-22 was ferociously expensive even by military contracting standards. The per-hour cost to fly it is higher than that of most of the Pentagon’s air fleet, including the newer, equally costly F-35 Lightning II.
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