AUDIO – Whither F-22?

December 16, 2008

In a time of shrinking budgets and fears for the future, one of the biggest questions of this year’s Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit was what will happen with the F-22 fighter jet that is made by Lockheed Grumman.

Lockheed Chief Executive Robert Stevens is really the guy we wanted to ask that question and he didn’t shrink from giving a pretty full defense of the jet.

The fate of the Air Force’s F-22 program awaits a decision by President-elect Barack Obama on whether to extend the production line beyond the 183 aircraft delivered or on order.

The supersonic F-22 Raptor has been the subject of a running battle over affordability for years. In June, Defense Secretary Robert Gates ousted the Air Force’s top military and civilian leaders amid a tug-of-war over the aircraft, which has never seen combat.

Designed to defeat enemy fighters and knock out advanced surface-to-air missile systems on the first day of a major war, it features the latest “stealth” technology to reduce detection by radar.

One of Stevens’ main considerations can be boiled down to — if we stop it, can we get it up and running again. He thinks not, based on the costs and advised a good deal of caution when making this decision. 

The Aero and Defense Summit is the final one of the year. In 2008, Reuters has had 33 summits around the globe and have as many or more planned for 2009. Our previous gathering, Reuters Investment Outlook Summit, provided clients with an excellent look at how to manage through what will certainly be a challenging 2009.

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