F/A-22 Exceeds Budget ... Again

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The F/A-22 promises to revolutionize the military's fighter aircraft inventory, but we may end up having fewer of these aircraft on hand to do so. The Air Force admits it may need to further cut its order for the Lockheed Martin Corp. fighter to pay for a projected $690 million cost overrun in the program. While Pentagon officials won't cite the source of this overrun, they admit that flight testing has been "a little slower, a little more difficult" than anticipated. "We are very much concerned with these numbers," Edward Aldridge, defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said. The Pentagon will convene a Defense Acquisition Board meeting December 5 to investigate this issue and determine how to rectify the situation. That may mean taking additional administrative action against project managers, two of whom have already been fired. In the meantime, The Pentagon has spent $26 billion of the $69 billion planned for a program that 10 years ago called for 750 planes and now calls for 295. The Pentagon has already considered cutting that number to 180 (close to one quarter of the original number).