December 12, 2005
By Gopal Ratnam and Michael Fabey
Times staff writers
Three years after the Air Force added an "A" to highlight the F/A-22 Raptor's
ability to drop bombs, the service is dropping the extra letter from the
stealthy jet's designator.
The plane, which is expected to officially enter service in the coming
weeks, will henceforth be called the F-22A - with the trailing letter
indicating a first variant, not an extra role.
Gen. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, who is said to have been
unhappy with the F/A-22 moniker, announced the renaming in a Dec. 12 speech
to an Air National Guard senior leadership conference in Baltimore, Md.
The decision was made in a recent meeting of senior service officials, said
Loren Thompson, an analyst at the Lexington Institute, who was familiar with
the deliberations. The decision was unanimous among Air Force and senior
Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Thompson
An Air Force spokesman said the renaming decision will be formally
announced in coming days. He also said that the service intends to continue
with plans to develop the aircraft's ability to strike ground targets. The
Raptor first dropped Joint Direct Attack Munitions in tests last year.
The Air Force has traditionally labeled its fighter aircraft with the "F"
prefix, even ones with some air-to-ground capabilities. The Raptor had been
called the "F-22" since its first flights as the prototype YF-22A in the
In September 2002, Gen. John Jumper, then-Air Force chief of staff, added
the "A" to emphasize the aircraft's ground-attack capabilities. The switch
came as the airplane was being assailed by critics inside and outside the
Pentagon as too expensive for the post-Sept. 11 world.
"This isn't your father's F-22," then-Air Force Secretary Jim Roche said in
a 2002 interview.
Since then, several Air Force officials have called the aircraft even more
flexible and capable than the F/A designator indicated. Classified
capabilities, unknown to the American public and U.S. lawmakers alike, mean
that the plane might as well have been called the FB-22 bomber, F/E-22
surveillance plane, F/EA-22 electronic attack aircraft, or even an RC-22
signals-intelligence platform, they said.
In recent months, the plane once again faced criticism as part of the
Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and was expected to face some
cuts in order to make way for the Pentagon's Joint Strike Fighter. But those
fears have subsided and the Air Force is likely to get its expected fleet of
Thompson said Air Force officials were feeling a "little expansive" after
the Raptor survived attacks during the QDR debates; they decided they didn't
need the extra "A" to persuade the administration and Congress to buy the
Pah. The F/A18E/F Superbug can still do more than that!
I remember listening to a briefing fomr Brig Gen some such who was F-22 program manager to somehow involved around the time the A was added. He said that it cost around a million dollars to do a "feasibility" study on renaming it the F/A-22 and then reprint all offical documents, and update everything that had the F-22 designator on it.
Don't know how true that was, or if he was just pissed he got shit canned, but it is interesting.
Why change it back? Who cares. Why are they wasting time, money and effort to think of how best to name it!
Call it the AF-22 for AIR FORCE. THe N-18E Hornet for NAVY and the MC-35 for the Marine Corp JSF.
Its all stupid.