... So that You may be kept informed

US: US lawmakers seek to extend F-22 jet production

19 Jun 2009 5:22 AM

WASHINGTON, June 18 AFP - The US House Armed Services Committee has passed an amendment extending production of the F-22 Raptor, a stealth fighter jet the Pentagon has sought to scrub.

Lawmakers voted 31 to 30 on Wednesday to provide $US369 million ($A465.62 million) over two years to buy parts to construct 12 more of the fighters, which are built by Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates had sought to cap production at 187 jets, meaning only four more would be built. But many Republicans balked at the administration's plans.

The Air Force has also long disagreed with halting production, and just last year called for a fleet of 381 fighters.

Last year Gates sacked the service's two top leaders officially over two major nuclear-related blunders in a move which was also largely suspected to have been fuelled by their position on the F-22 program.

In 2009, the Pentagon spent $US2.9 billion ($A3.66 billion) on the planes, which cost some $US200 million ($A252.37 million) each. A program that emerged out of the Cold War, the fighter is accused by its critics of not having been adapted to current conflicts. Supporters though say that there is a need to ensure US air superiority as China and Russia invest in fighter jets.

The Raptor has not been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

The procurement spending came as an amendment to the Pentagon's 2010 defence budget for $US550.4 billion ($A694.51 billion). The panel approved the spending bill by a 61 to zero vote.

The budget bill also provides $US130 billion ($A164.04 billion) for "overseas contingency operations", including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a departure from the George W Bush administration, which had funded the wars through emergency supplemental appropriations.