Despite cost overruns in the F-22 fighter jet program and a newly revealed problem with cracks on the tail, Air Force Secretary James Roche on Tuesday urged that the plane move from prototype stage into production. "It works. It works, gang," he told a group of defense writers. "It's 20 years old ... it's time to get on with it." Roche said the Air Force later Tuesday would recommend to acquisition officials that the plane go into low-rate production, despite a GAO report issued earlier this month estimating that producing 333 of the planes will cost between $2 billion to $9 billion more than the $37.6 billion cap Congress specified for the program in 1997. In order to stay within that $37.6 billion, GAO estimated that the Air Force would have to reduce its order to 248 planes.
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