An Era Begins Closing On F-22
"We support the final four F-22s proposed in the fiscal 2009 supplemental request, as this will aid the long-term viability of the F-22 fleet. But the time has come to close out production. That is why we do not recommend that F-22s be included in the fiscal 2010 defense budget.
"Make no mistake: Air dominance remains an essential capability for joint warfighting. The F-22 is a vital tool in the military's arsenal and will remain in our inventory for decades to come. But the time has come to move on."
So concludes a piece in the Washington Post by Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and chief of staff Gen. Norton Schwartz is chief of staff of the Air Force.
One week after Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended cutting the F-22 and other high tech programs, Donley and Schwartz gave their reasons why.
It's another reminder about the choices that even the budget-rich Pentagon is having to make these days. Despite lobbying, ad campaigns and such from manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Boeing, it looks like the end of production is near.
Here's the Air Force Times' take:
"The Air Force's top two leaders explained in a newspaper op-ed Monday that they recommended capping production of the F-22 Raptor program because they couldn't justify spending billions more on stealth fighters when other higher service priorities exist and money is tight."
"Schwartz and Donley acknowledged they had wanted an F-22 fleet of 243 but came to realize "buying more F-22s means doing less of something else." The $13 billion for the 60 additional fighters could be better used to repair the service's nuclear enterprise, ramp up its unmanned aircraft fleet and better fight irregular wars.
"The leaders pointed out they remain dedicated to air superiority and have confidence that a combination of the 187 F-22 fleet Congress has approved and the 2,443 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters the Defense Department plans to buy will provide that.
"As Gates continues to guide the Defense Department away from Cold War-era weapons programs and shape the services to fight both irregular and conventional wars, Schwartz and Donley said F-22 requirements changed."
The folks at the Project On Government Oversight have given a great deal of thought and scrutiny to Pentagon spending. Here's what they had to say after the Post piece appeared:
"Donley and Schwartz say that while the Air Force's warfighting assumptions have differed from the Department in the past--the DoD/Air Force tomaeto-tomahto fight has been a pronounced difference from the Air Force favoring 60 additional aircraft--they recognize that budget constraints are forcing them to make choices:
"Within a fixed Air Force and overall Defense Department budget, our challenge is to decide among many competing needs. Buying more F-22s means doing less of something else. In addition to air superiority, the Air Force provides a number of other capabilities critical to joint operations for which joint warfighters have increasing needs. These include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, and related needs in the space and cyber domains.
"All of this largely echoes Gates's themes that DoD needs to set priorities and consider inescapable tradeoffs and opportunity costs. In addition to all of the spending we're seeing through the stimulus and TARP, it's great to see another signal that DoD is seriously considering costs as part of their procurement strategy."
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