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Tactical Aircraft: DOD Should Present a New F-22A Business Case before Making Further Investments


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he F-22A is the Air Force's next generation air superiority fighter aircraft. It incorporates a low observable (stealth) and highly maneuverable airframe, advanced integrated avionics, and a new engine capable of sustained supersonic flight without the use of afterburners. It was originally designed to counter threats posed by the Soviet Union and was intended to replace the F-15 fighter in the air-to-air combat role. However, the Air Force now plans to add a more robust ground attack and intelligence- gathering capability not previously envisioned but now considered "necessary" to increase the utility of the aircraft. In December 2005, the Air Force changed designations from the F/A-22 to the F-22A. The aircraft maintained all current capabilities as well as the expanded ground attack capabilities. Officials have initiated a modernization program to develop and integrate these new capabilities. In March 2005, we reported that despite substantial changes to the F-22A program since it started in 1986, Air Force leaders have not developed a new business case for investing billions more dollars to modernize the aircraft. Over time quantities have been reduced, and in recent years both funding and quantities have been in a state of flux. Given significant changes in quantities and planned capabilities, the large investments still planned, and the potential for further changes, Congress requested that we review the F-22A program.



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