Is This Plane Necessary?

The Air Force is set to launch the costliest procurement program ever, with or without a debate on its merits

Standing in the hangar under bright spotlights, the YF-22 Lightning looks just like what it is: a low-slung, sharply angled killing machine. In the air, the advanced jet fighter is not only fast (sprinting up to twice the speed of sound) and agile (pitching and rolling like a Piper Cub) but almost invisible to enemy radar. If the Air Force has its way, the plane will rule the skies for the better part of the 21st century.

The YF-22 was the winner last week of an intensive five-year competition for | the richest prize in the history of military procurement: a...

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