F-22 Lifeline

More from the Post's Dana Hedgpeth on Pentagon spending:

The Pentagon's top weapons buyer made a move Wednesday that temporarily keeps the budget pipeline open for the F-22 fighter jet.

John Young, the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said the Air Force should spend up to $50 million to buy parts and other supplies needed to build four more F-22s. (See a PDF of the signed procurement agreement here.)

By Lefteris Pitarakis -- Associated Press

Young said the money "provides a bridge" that will keep spending going until the Obama administration can decide whether to go forward with the expensive weapons program -- or shut down Lockheed Martin's production line in Marietta, Ga. in 2011 as planned.

Young's move comes after congressional leaders on the House Armed Services Committee pushed the Pentagon in two recent letters to explain why $140 million set aside for the plane's suppliers has been in limbo.

Lawmakers argued that any future costs of the F-22 could rise significantly if suppliers were forced to shut down because the money hadn't been released.

"The cost of opening and shutting a production line is really high," said Chris Isleib, a spokesman for Young.

He said Young's decision to authorize money to buy such parts as engine components, hydraulic systems, wheels and other materials for four aircraft will keep the production line open until March. "You want to keep it there especially if there is a question of whether you're going to buy more airplanes," he said.

Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace industry analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, said Young's move only "stops the bleeding" on the F-22. He said in the 2009 budget the Pentagon had a choice to put in funding to shut down the plane's production line or fund a long lead-time but did neither.

"Young's buying time for the next administration," Aboulafia said. "That's where the real decision will be made."

He said president-elect Obama's administration seems likely to consider the F-22 a Cold War relic. "It doesn't look great," he said of the F-22's future.

By Robert O'Harrow |  November 12, 2008; 2:57 PM ET
Previous: Fraud Indicators | Next: Set Asides Set Aside?


Please email us to report offensive comments.

It's time to get over the concept of cold war relic. There never was such a thing. A system that can operate in access denied conditions is a national asset. A system with global reach is a national asset. The F-22 provides a significant advantage over legacy platforms such as the F-15, F-16. For those who haven't noted Russian ships in South American waters, improved Russian Cuban relations, or Chinese technical advancement the cold war is far from over.

Posted by: grantar2 | November 13, 2008 9:27 AM

the F-22 is a perplexing airframe.
Yes, the US needs to replace the Falcon F-16's and Eagle F-15's that are now as much as 30 years old.
But it is now 2008, and the industrial base is capable of building unmanned craft that can outperform the Raptor at half the cost.

The Air Force is fixated on glorifying the jet jockey culture. Gee, I wonder why.
That culture is the real "cold war relic."
Poster Grant from Arkansas above appears to have an investment personally in the adulation of the "fighter pilot."

But that culture cost us getting into the Iraq war. Looking back, if we had a military professional as CJCS, instead of the "fair" policy of rotating someone from each service through the position, then President Bush would have received competent advice on the advisability of starting that war. But jet jockeys know nothing of enfilading fires, of dismounted presence patrols, or of VBIED's.

I don't know what to say about the "bogeyman" of a resurgent Soviet military. The Russians flat out don't have the money or conscription base for that. Our biggest threat from the Slavs is from organized criminal networks; Europe's legit worries concern the flow of hydrocarbons. A strike aircraft can't do much about either of those.

Alas, fretting about "Chinese technical advancement" gives your position away. Don't let their dominance in the CD player or laptop computer markets scare you: their perceived high-tech dominance is really Korean and Taiwanese companies' dominance, exploiting cheap labor conditions.

Posted by: BrianX9 | November 13, 2008 11:40 AM

Unmanned craft like the above writer wants just serves to make warfare more impersonal, more like a game for the people who prosecute the wars of the future, is this a good thing? To surrender the high ground to governments that publicly and privately threaten to vaporize our city's may not be a lofty idea. The Chinese have sent a probe the the moon and men in space, they daily probe our computer systems for weakness. To scoff at their ability's is foolish. As for our on again off again friends the Russians, they still have the largest or second largest nuclear stockpile on the planet.
The present political winds blow for change in this country. I hope that means being strong and of goodwill to our neighbors. Not being weak and closing our eyes to what is going on in this world.

Posted by: Brakeman | November 13, 2008 8:33 PM

oh my head hurts with the tectonic screeching of cold war believers and veterans. we don't need that plane for close-air support nor to face rusting Migs in combat. the Chinese won't kill us with aircraft.
the USAF is the worst bunch of wastrels in the defense establishment. we need defense, and offense capabilities, in a big way. but not that plane. let's keep on updating the F15 and retire a whole bunch of generals who don't give a damn about the taxpayers and our prospecds. they need to put the Country First for a change, not the USAF. Note that USAF procurement is certified wasteful, slothful, and subject to more waste, fraud and abuse than any one elses procurement programs.

Posted by: axolotl | November 13, 2008 9:03 PM

Last time I looked, the Russians and Chinese were still developing manned fighters and they're both looking for customers to buy these aircraft. Maybe the Russians and Chinese won't "kill us with rusting MiGs" but it might be the nations who buy from the Russians and Chinese.

Posted by: srpinpgh | November 14, 2008 12:59 PM

One of the best Fighter Attack planes ever built. The second best was the A-10. Warthog

Posted by: jrbreslin1 | November 14, 2008 3:30 PM

One of the best Fighter Attack planes ever built. The second best was the A-10 Wharthog. We have them at Willow Grove Air Base, PA.

Posted by: jrbreslin1 | November 14, 2008 3:32 PM

I wonder if President-elect Obama will do the same as former President Clinton did, rape the Defense Budget, to further his domestic programs?

Posted by: jrbreslin1 | November 14, 2008 3:40 PM

UAVs cannot replace manned vehicles for operations against tech savvy opponents. There is no such thing as a secure communications system. Either the system will be hacked or a traitor will hand the keys to the system over to the enemy for money. Anyone who advocates for such a defense system has not bothered to educate themselves and is engaging in the type of invincible ignorance that these arguments assert

Posted by: HeuristicDragon | November 19, 2008 12:50 AM

I have no idea what those who would cancel the F-22 would do with the supposed savings, but the reality of having a military force presupposes the notion that the vehicles must be replaced from time to time. It is a fact that from the time of World War II, the replacement planes have generally been more capable and cost more. Similar to the B-52, the F-15's that the F-22 would replace now are mostly older than the pilots that fly them. I suppose from a political point of view, the left of center folks who just won the last election can turn this airplane into a political football and get it cancelled, but it would simply provide one more piece of evidence that they should not really be entrusted with the nation's security against potential foreign threats.

Posted by: marcusaurelius2 | November 19, 2008 9:37 AM

The CHANGES we will see under the Obama and Democratic controlled House.
A Law of the Seas Treaty,that overrides our Constitution;The Right of the child Treaty, the adoption of a uniform penal code U. N.; The International Criminal Court treaty, which is central to global governance; Globalize thinking to transnational and lawerize America's security in general and America's Armed Forces in particular; A Global Tax on Americans paid directly to the United Nations; which will be used against its citizens; A Reparations for Blacks (only) in America Bill, how about reparations for persecuted Irish, Italian, Polish,German, American Indians,and Jews,in America also;A Treaty to ratify the North American Union; which would merge America, Canada and Mexico, generating the unconditional surrender of our nation.

Posted by: jrbreslin1 | November 19, 2008 11:25 AM

Regarding the comment by the reader that he hopes Obama does not "rape the defense budget, to further his domestic programs" as Bill Clinton did. I think it is only fair to observe that knowledgeable DOD & military individuals recognize that defense procurement lead times are quite long. Such that in fact, the military that went to war against Afghanistan and Iraq were largely legacy capabilities of the Clinton years. Sec.Rumsfeld predicted the Iraq war would cost only $50 Billion - a gross misjudgment. Additionally, over three years into the war we still could not provide an adequately armored Humvee to protect against IEDs and the supply line to replace downed Black Hawk helicopters was still taking over 3 years to replace according the the Army General who was the program manager (among many other shortcomings). Any objective analysis of the wars would have to conclude the Bush/Rumsfeld team was guilty of the same optimistic intellectual arrogance of the the Johnson/McNamara team in Vietnam in which I served.

Posted by: Letsbeobjective | November 19, 2008 12:17 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company