Raptors on the Cutting Board

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They are supposed to be the most technologically advanced fighter ever built, and Tyndall Air Force Base is currently home for 13 of the F/A 22 jets.

These raptors are scheduled to go into active duty in exactly one year, but reports say the Pentagon is ready to put the jet on the budget cutting board, possibly suspending the program.

The raptor had quite a welcome to Tyndall Air Force Base, and with its arrival many hoped it would help secure the future for the base, but the New York Times is now reporting the Pentagon has already told the White House and Congress that it plans for cuts in the F-22 program, halting production at 160 jets, instead of completing all 277.

Larry Dantzler, a local base lobbyist, says if the program dies, Tyndall most likely will still continue training for the ones in existence.

"The number of people that's anticipated to come in with the F-22 program may be reduced, but the number of people that are here today will certainly not be reduced because of this cut."

The New York Times reports a Defense Department spokesman declined to comment on specific decisions, but said the Pentagon's proposal “ensured that the F/A 22 would remain healthy."

But the proposal comes as the Defense Department considers Base Realignment And Closures, set to be announced in March of next year.

Dantzler says while it helps to have the raptor program at Tyndall, the F-15 training is specialized as well.

"We have two bases that are very important to the overall mission of their respective services."

The raptors cost about $258 million a piece and the Pentagon has already spent almost $40 billion on the jets with an estimated overall cost of about $72 billion.

Congress must approve the pentagon's proposal for the cuts, but federal departments are all under pressure from the White House to cut spending. Tyndall Air Force Base and the Air Force press desk declined to comment until the president actually sends the budget to Congress with its cuts and requests.