I keep looking at the table, but all I see is a great big price tag. The first F-22 airframe-"Raptor 01 - The Spirit of America"-rolled out of a Lockheed hangar on 9 April amid a firestorm of budgetary controversy. The stealth fighter, currently estimated at more than $158 million per copy, is catching flak from countless sources, most notably Congress.
In an attempt to polish the project for the legislative eye, the Air Force has expanded the jet's role from air-superiority-only fighter to multimission platform. The January 1997 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology featured a series of articles on the state of the stealth fighter program that aptly summarizes the body of F-22 advocacy. At first glance, these arguments seem compelling. A peek beneath their surface, however, reveals the house-of-cards nature of the Air Force's "expanding role" F-22 strategy.