The newest fighter in the U.S. Air Force arsenal, the F-22 Raptor, flys over the crowd during the Experimental Aircraft Association's 2007 AirVenture annual fly-in and convention on July 28, 2007 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the Air Force was cutting its request for F-22 Raptors. The earlier version also incorrected stated that the Air Force was ending the production line in 2010. NBCDFW regrets the errors.
With the country struggling in recession and the Pentagon looking for ways to cut its budget, the number of Raptors being requested by the Air Force is a moving target.
The sleek, stealthy war bird that replaces part of the aging Air Force fighter fleet is in a dicy ping-pong budget game with top Air Force brass at the Pentagon. The ultimate decision of whether to continue the F-22 production line beyond 2010 is rooted in a March 1 congressional deadline for President Barack Obama's 2010 budget.
The Fort Worth Lockheed plant employs about 2,000 people on the F-22 project. Most are working on the mid-fuselage of the aircraft with others on classified systems.
The DOD Buzz reported that Gen. Norton Schwartz, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, told reporters the Air Force says it needs more F-22s than the 183 on order. Reuters reported Schwartz would not deny that the Air Force wants 60 more F-22s, for a total of 243 Raptors.
"If those numbers hold, that is very good news for the Fort Worth plant," said Joe Stout, a spokesman at the Lockheed-Martin plant in west Fort Worth.
"That additional order -- even though less than the original 381 ships envisioned by the Air Force -- will keep the F-22 Raptor line in business for a while past 2010," he said.