Raptor Fight

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Florida Cong. Allen Boyd says he and his colleagues are gearing up for a fight to save the F/A-22 Raptor program.

The Pentagon wants to cut the Raptor's budget and halt production of the fighter to answer the White House's budget cutting demands.

The F/A-22s cost an estimated $358 million apiece and those at the Pentagon say it might be time to drop the costly program, but Florida Cong. Allen Boyd says the Raptors provide security for Tyndall Air Force Base. It’s security that is necessary as the March deadline for Base Relocation And Closing gets closer.

"You have to remember that one of the primary missions of Tyndall is the training of the fighter pilots, so if you've got less to train, you could have a problem."

Capt. Susan Romano with Tyndall Air Force Base says the base is not preparing for any changes just yet.

"Currently we have eight instructor pilots; those are the ones who are responsible for training the pilots who are in-bound. We have seven pilots in training and they attend a two-and-a-half-month training program here at Tyndall."

Cong. Boyd says the cuts were ordered by top administration officials even though the Air Force has consistently said they need the total 277 jets. Production is now at about 160, and reports say the Pentagon would like to build only about 20 more.

"This policy of running budget deficits sooner or later catches up with you."

Boyd says he will work with other allies in Congress to try and prevent cuts because touching the Raptor program could really hurt Tyndall.

"Obviously it could, because if you cut way back and there's always, there could always be a discussion at the Pentagon that goes like this: 'well, why don't we combine the operational flight with the training, the operational squadron with the training squadron?’ We'd probably lose out in a deal like that."

It’s a deal he's insisted will not be won without a fight.

The Air Force suspended all F/A-22 flights last month after a Raptor crashed at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas. The crash is still under investigation.

Tyndall officials say they're continuing Raptor training in the classroom and on simulators.