PopSci Update

Smarter Bomber

Illustration by John MacNeill
Illustration by John MacNeill

As we reported in july, the Air Force has been pondering a bomber version of the new F-22 Raptor fighter jet: a delta-wing variant called the FB-22. But budget cutbacks have grounded that plan. Top brass announced that the plane's name will be the F/A-22 Raptor-F/A, as in Fighter/Attack-but no new capabilities are being added. A decision by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to dramatically cut total plane orders, possibly to 200 from 400, is expected by year's end. Meanwhile, with his Raptor flock dwindling, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper is trying desperately to emphasize that "the Raptor will feed on prey both from the sky and from the (ground)."