“Rather than thinking of a sixth-generation fighter, can you modify the F-22 and re-open the line cheaper and keep the numbers up?” asks outgoing US Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh. “I don’t know. We’re working on that right now. We’ve got to open the spectrum a little wider about how we’re going to get the job done 20 years from now.”
And this from defensenews.com:
Although top Air Force officials have said in the past such a project would be cost-prohibitive, it’s “not a crazy idea,” Welsh said.
“I don’t think it’s a wild idea, I mean the success of the F-22 and the capability of the airplane and the crews that fly it are pretty exceptional. I think it’s proven that the airplane is exactly what everybody hoped it would be,” Welsh said. “We’re using it in new and different ways and it’s been spectacularly successful and its potential is really, really remarkable. And so going back and looking and certainly raising the idea: Well, could you build more? It’s not a crazy idea.”
The Air Force is currently working with Lockheed Martin to determine the feasibility and cost of such a project, Welsh said.