Here's a surprise: The Air Force has issued a press release boasting that the F/A-22 Raptor has just passed its "independent" testing by the Air Force. The fighter has demonstrated "overwhelmingly effective" war-fighting capability, according to the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation report by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Kirkland Air Force Base, N.M.
This news release is a little misleading because the "independent" tester, the Air Force, really isn't all that independent. The Pentagon's real independent tester, the Director of Test and Evaluation, has yet to complete its report card of its rigorous testing of the $257 million per copy aircraft.
Testing issues aside, we think the fighter is way too expensive and its mission has disappeared with the end of the cold war.
That's not to say there's not a cold war brewing in Congress that such news releases tend to bolster. The Pentagon has approved a budget cut of just over $10 billion to reduce the number of F/A-22 buys from 276 to 180, but the Air Force isn't going down without a fight. It's preparing a power point presentation to ask for twice that number of Raptors.