Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III said May 26 that reopening the F-22 manufacturing line was within the realm of possibility, and that it may cost less than developing a sixth-generation fighter. Congress recently asked the Air Force to look into resuming the canceled fighter program. Welsh, who will retire on July 1, said it wasn”t a “wild idea.” “Rather than thinking of a sixth-generation fighter, can you modify the F-22 and reopen the line, cheaper?” he asked. That might keep the number of fighters the Air Force must maintain up, he said at an Air Force Association breakfast in Arlington, Virginia. The Lockheed Martin manufactured stealthy fighter jet was discontinued in 2009, when then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates insisted the money required to build more would be better spent on other priorities. Welsh said the Air Force is currently conducting a cost analysis to see what it would take to revive the Raptor. “Looking back at somebody raising the idea to build more is not a crazy idea,” he said. “I think you”ve heard … the secretary of the Air Force say that we think it”s cost-prohibitive. We”re going back right now and looking in detail at the number of what would it cost.”
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