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U.S. Senate Approves Fighter Aircraft Procurement Plan

The United States Senate has approved a proposal to procure 60 F-22A Raptors during the next three years through a multi-year contract.

Supporting the action, Sen Orrin Hatch indicated that purchasing the U.S. Air Force planes via a multi-year contract rather than buying the Raptors on an annual basis would save American taxpayers as much as $335 million.

The F-22A Raptors are maintained at Hill Air Force Base.

Following the floor discussion, the members of the U.S. Senate endorsed the plan by a 70 to 28 vote.

"It is common sense that you shouldn't pay more for an acquisition than you have to," pointed out the Utah senator. "Everyone agrees that the Air Force should have these 60 Raptors and we'll save millions by buying in bulk now."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia introduced the multi-year procurement amendment to the defense authorization bill. Hatch was the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 2996.

The procurement would bring the total fleet of Raptors to 183, the number prescribed by the Bush Administration.

But the Utah senator supports the U.S. Air Force's goal to bolster the Raptor fleet from 183 to 381 due to the increasing demands on America's military.

"The F-22 Raptor is among the most impressive pieces of technology in our nation's Armed Forces," indicated Hatch. "It's designed to defeat the threats of the future and is urgently needed to replace our fleet of aging F-15s."

"In stealth, maneuverability, speed and bombing capabilities, the F-22 is the Air Force's war winner," continued the Utah senator.

Hill Air Force personnel perform maintenance work on the Raptor, including construction of the horizontal stabilizing portion of the plane's tail.

"The Air Force knows that, when they want a job done right, they need to come to Utah," commented Hatch. "For depot maintenance, no one comes close to Hill.

The Independent Institute for Defense Analysis estimated that Chambliss' amendment would save the federal government and taxpayers between $225 million and $335 million.

"The Raptor is stealthier than the famous F-117 Nighthawk and it's the world's most lethal and maneuverable fighter aircraft. During recent decades, other nations have been consistently developing new aircraft and missile systems to defeat our older fighters. Obviously, wee need the F-22 and we have identified a means to save money while we are buying it," concluded the Utah senator.

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