November 8, 2000
Managers of the F-22 Raptor program are scrambling to meet the 21 December deadline for a production decision. There are a lot of tests yet to be made and a lot of goals yet to be met.
@ Raptor-4001 has been retired from flight tests and will be sacrificed to live fire impact tests.
@ Raptor-4002 is continuing its weapons ejection tests.
@ Raptor-4003 is continuing flight maneuver tests.
@ Raptor-4004 is the first truly stealth aircraft, and will begin key tests above the radars of the Edwards AFB range on 13 Dec.
@ Raptor-4005 has yet to fly, and it will be the first to carry the complete software package (version 3.0). This software must sift through everything the sensors detect (and they pretty much detect everything) to find the things that matter. It is the most complex software program ever written for a fighter, and may be the most complex in history.
@ Raptor-4006 must make its first flight before the review, and that flight is scheduled for 15 Dec (if everything goes well).
The Air Force is asking Congress to release some of the impounded funding so that there will not be a break in work on the aircraft. They want $900 million to start buying parts for the first 10 production aircraft while waiting for the final tests to be completed.--Stephen V Cole