Statement of Congressman Helen Chenoweth-Hage
Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Affairs
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
B372 Rayburn House Office Building
June 15, 2000
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the committee for holding this hearing concerning "F-22 Cost Controls: Will Production Cost Savings Materialize?" Today, I look forward to hearing more from our panel of witnesses about the financial impact of the production cost reduction plans and the feasibility of staying within the production cost estimates.
Mr. Chairman, what I have found most disturbing about the whole production process with respect to the F-22 is the continual lowering of production targets while the cost has generally continued to grow.. It is simply amazing to me that we have reduced production goals from 750 in 1991 to 333 today, while development cost now exceeds sixty billion dollars!
These are disturbing facts, Mr. Chairman, and, we cannot avoid them. That is why the aggressive implementation of production cost reduction plans are so important to the survival of this program. However, at the same time, we must confirm that these production cost reduction plans will actually achieve their stated objectives. It has seemed to be extremely hard to determine exactly how much will actually be saved. The Air Force estimates $40.8 billion and the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force estimates $48.6 billion.
Mr. Chairman, I understand that the way these figures were arrived at used different calculations and accounting methods. However, a eight billion dollar differential is extreme. It brings to mind the old joke of, "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon we’re talking about real money." Mr. Chairman, we have to find a solution to this problem.
I have been a supporter of the F-22 in the past and I firmly believe that we do need to progress toward obtaining a replacement fighter for the F-15. There’s also much more that we should be doing. We have never developed a plane that can adequately replace the A-10, a plane that was so successfully used during the Gulf War that some troops renamed it from the Warthog to the Queen of the Gulf. We have never acquired an adequate substitute in the proper numbers for the B-52, a plane that is now older than the parents of some of its pilots. And yet, Mr. Chairman, no matter how much we wish to obtain replacement aircraft, we face genuine budgetary limits.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing the analysis of both our panels today. I believe that their answers will provide the critical analysis that we require to make calculated cost-benefit decisions with regard to future procurement of the F-22. Again, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank both you and the Committee for holding this hearing and look forward to receiving the answers we all desire.