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DoD Has Homework to do Before F-22 Decision

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2001 – DoD still has plenty of homework to do before making a final decision on acquiring the F-22 fighter for the Air Force.

The Air Force and the program contractor, Lockheed Martin, say they have completed preliminary flights and testing required before a Defense Acquisition Board can rule on further funding. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said Feb. 6, however, that a final decision might still be a long way off, in part because of the "strategic review" being planned by new Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Development of the F-22 has been proceeding on $350 million in interim funding, which runs out March 31. To proceed with initial production, the acquisition board must approve releasing the additional appropriated $2.1 billion. Quigley said DoD still has "a lot of homework."

"The flights and testing have just been completed," he said during a Pentagon press briefing. "You've now got to collect all that data (and) put it in an orderly fashion to prepare for the Defense Acquisition Board process."

Rumsfeld's as-yet-undefined strategic review, directed by President Bush, is adding even more uncertainty to the process. Rumsfeld plans to look closely at defense strategy, programs and structure before making high-dollar decisions, Quigley said.

"I think you'd be hard-pressed ... to make any significant acquisition decisions for big dollars absent an understanding of where they fit into the overall picture," Quigley said in response to reporters' questions.

No time limit has been placed on the review, but the secretary has said he expects it to last "some number of months," the admiral said. "(Rumsfeld) has not put any more boundaries on it than that. 'Not days and not years' were his words."

Should the review process last longer than a couple months, funding could be affected for other programs -- including the Marines' V-22 Osprey aircraft and the Navy DD-21 destroyer, Quigley said.

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