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Raptor program on track despite challenges



12/03/02 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Despite recent changes in the F/A-22 Raptor program, the aircraft's future remains bright, Air Force officials said recently.

Service officials recently announced they were appointing two new senior F/A-22 program officials soon after learning that there could be potential cost overruns, up to $690 million, in the engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the program.

Brig. Gen. Richard B. H. Lewis and Col. Thomas J. Owen were selected to take over the program because they have the right operational requirements expertise and technical backgrounds to bring the F/A-22 program into its next phase by the summer of 2003, according to Dr. James G. Roche, secretary of the Air Force.

Lewis, currently the director of the Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense Organization at the Pentagon, will become the new program executive officer for fighters and bombers at the Pentagon, replacing Brig. Gen. William J. Jabour.

Owen, selected for promotion to brigadier general, currently is the system program director of the C-17 Globemaster III program for the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He will become the system program director for the F/A-22, also located at Wright-Patterson AFB, replacing Brig. Gen. Mark D. Shackelford.

"Jay Jabour and Mark Shackelford are extremely committed officers who helped manage the program during a very challenging period of testing and development." said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper.

However, because of demands on the program schedule plus the Air Force's overall intent to align major acquisition efforts closely with operational acumen, Roche, Jumper and Dr. Marvin R. Sambur determined that new leadership was necessary to achieve the service's objectives. Sambur is assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition at the Pentagon.

"(Jumper) and I have been involved personally in reviewing all aspects of this program, and when necessary, we've made changes to ensure the success of (the F/A-22, a) critical contributor to America's joint warfighting capabilities," Roche said.

Sambur appointed a team of technical and financial experts to investigate the reports of a potential cost overrun in the EMD phase of the F/A-22 program. They are tasked with determining its magnitude and recommending steps to lessen further problems.

The team of industry and Air Force experts, lead by Jon S. Ogg, director of the ASC's engineering and technical management directorate at Wright-Patterson AFB, will report their initial findings to Air Force leaders in the coming weeks.

The potential overrun appears to be related to meeting the developmental schedule on budget and not associated with the aircraft's technology or performance.

"The F/A-22 program is doing very well," Sambur said. "This exceptional plane is working superbly and we're meeting or exceeding all performance-related key performance parameters."

The Raptor has evolved dramatically into a multi-role strike system with broad applications for 21st century warfare as a result of new technologies, doctrine and concepts of operation, according to Roche.

"(It's) essential to America's security in the 21st century and we will get to the bottom of this issue," Jumper said.

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