Secretary Gates and the F-22 Raptor

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The decision by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to halt the further production of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor aircraft may be the most controversial of his new defense strategy. In the past Gates himself as well as other Department of Defense executives had sought to curtail F-22 production, noting that the aircraft contributes little to — in his words — “fight the wars we are in today and the scenarios we are most likely to face in the years ahead. . . .”

But those efforts ran afoul of the F-22’s large number of congressional and aerospace industry supporters, as well as Air Force’s leadership. Now, however, Secretary Gates has the direction and backing of the new administration to “reshape the priorities of America’s defense establishment.” 

With that underpinning, Gates has stated that F-22 production will end with 187 aircraft — the 183 planes now built and under contract plus the four aircraft in the Fiscal Year 2009 supplemental appropriation. This is less than one-half of the Air Force’s stated requirement for 381 aircraft. This is based on the need to provide ten rotational Air Expeditionary Forces (AEFs), each with at least one squadron of 24 Raptors.

Under Air Force planning, those 240 F-22s assigned to the AEFs would be supported by 60 training aircraft, 15 test and evaluation aircraft, 32 for backup, and 34 for attrition during the aircraft’s service life (i.e., ten percent of the above).  The total: 381 aircraft.

However, in February 2009, Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz said that a new F-22 target would be “less than 381” jets, which Air Force leadership had clung to in recent years. Air Force officials recently told Congress that they would like an additional 60 or more F-22s, for a total of between 240 and 250 aircraft.

“I think it’s a sign of a healthy institution that we’re willing to revisit long-held beliefs, no matter how central to our ethos they may be,” said Schwartz.

Conceived as the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) in the 1980s, the F-22 Raptor won a competitive development with the Northrop-McDonnell Douglas F-23 design. The ATF program was initiated to (1) insure U.S. air superiority, (2)counter the growth of advanced air defenses, and (3)allow the timely retirement of F-15 Eagle aircraft. When Lockheed was selected in 1991 to build the ATF the Air Force procurement goal was 648 aircraft.


Now, almost two decades later, the F-22 arrives on the scene as foreign air threats are far more limited.  Instead of having to counter hundreds of advanced Russian Sukhoi or MiG fighters over Europe or Asia, U.S. air forces will face only tens of advanced fighters in the likely crises and conflicts of the foreseeable future. And, beyond the ten AEFs of the Air Force, the Navy can put into forward areas up to ten carrier air wings — with  as many as 60 F/A-18 Hornets of various models–while the Marine Corps has three aircraft wings with an aggregate of more than a dozen F/A-18 squadrons.

Secretary Gates, while announcing the end of F-22 production, has also said that he is accelerating procurement of F/A-18E and F models for the Navy, and recommending an acceleration of the F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The F-35 — also having low-observable (stealth) features — will come in three principal models: The F-35A for Air Force land-basing, the F-35B Short Takeoff/vertical Landing (STOVL) for the Marine Corps, and the F-35C carrier-capable model for the Navy. The ultimate procurement goal for the three services is now 2,443 aircraft.

Thus, Secretary Gates is predicting that the Navy-Marine Corps F/A-18 force, eventually supplemented and the replaced by the JSF, as well as the Air Force F-35A program will complement the reduced F-22 force to provide an adequate if not superior air capability for the country. 

Editor’s note: This is the first of several commentaries by Mr. Polmar on the new defense strategy and procurement plans being put forth by Secretary Gates.

— Norman Polmar

  • Drake

    Well lucky for us Gates has a glass stomach which to see because his head is so far lodged up his ass…
    Since the end of the Cold War, the Russian and Chinese defense industries have absorbed most of the advanced technology in the globalized market. The most recent generation of radars, Surface to Air Missiles and fighter aircraft they have developed can produce air defense systems which are completely impenetrable to all United States combat aircraft other than the F-22A Raptor and B-2A Spirit. The result of this is that the United States will lose access to many theaters of operation on the global stage, as these new weapons proliferate, unless the United States deploys ~700 F-22A Raptors – the number originally planned for in the first place.
    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is NOT a Substitute for the F-22 Raptor!!!!! The F-35 lacks the performance of the F-22, the survivability of the F-22, the firepower of the F-22, and the deploy ability of the F-22.
    Considering Russia’s high tech weapons, BVR radars and missiles, counter stealth radars and extensive SAM systems we need to think we beyond bombing Akbar in a cave…

    • Colonial-Marine

      I approve! We need many more F-22s, although I believe over 700 would be overkill. How about 580 plus some attrition spares? Combine that with some 1600+ F-35As (to replace our F-16s), upgraded F-15Es, and MQ-X stealthy UAVs and we have quite a strike force.

      A fighter bomber along the lines of the proposed FB-22 or FB-23 would be a welcome addition too.

  • Total

    “The most recent generation of radars, Surface to Air Missiles and fighter aircraft they have developed”
    How many of those have they built and deployed? 1? 3?

  • Mister Rose

    I see a few reasons for keeping production going. This is an airframe that we can use for the next 40 years. F15s are getting old. We might need something on a 2 engine platform 25 years from now. Seeing as how it takes about 15 years to build a new fighter, it is nice to be able to modify an existing platform rather than invent a new one (like they did with the F-15E). Otherwise we would have to siphon off the fighters, or we would have to do without. Putting all the eggs into the F35 basket seems a little risky to me.
    I’d rather see them continue with some sort of low rate production, just to keep the line running. Once this program is gone, that line will be reset for some other job. If we find that we need more top line fighters, it could take years to set it up again.

  • TexanJames

    I advise Total to look into the SA-20 before making wise cracks about new radars and SAM systems not being produced enough to be a threat. Also look into the SA-X-21 and as well as China’s HQ-9.

  • CJ

    The F-22 — terribly cool as it is — should be canceled. The glaring over-sight in all these arguments is a very simple one: stealth UAVs and other forms of stealth smart weapons. No matter how formidable an air defense system devised by China, Russia, etc, a stealth UAV would have the RCS of a spec of dust and stopping them would be improbable if not impossible. Development is already underway on these UAVs and that’s where the military is going with its funding and planning.
    We also can’t ignore the full dimensions of war. Any war with an adversary worthy of the F-22 will take place on land, sea, air, and internet. An air defense system isn’t worth a damn if our ground forces are pulverizing it. Or if like in the recent Israeli strike on Syria (or 1991 Iraq war), the air defenses are shut down by computer virus (or other technical means).
    The F-35 is pointless as well, but the F-35 is nothing more than a social welfare program for the global defense industry, they’re going to build it no matter what.
    It’s a moot point anyway, war with China would annihilate the global economy and put us in the dark ages, it’ll never happen. There are no othere defense systems out there remotely capable of stopping even our current arsenal, which already includes a large F-22 supply. Since China is the only ones with an air defense system worth a damn, and we’ll never fight them, the F-22 has no worthy adversary and this is just all academic.

    • Anthony

      You are in idiot…

  • bobbymike

    CJ – While I agree that there is early development and drawing board UAV’s and other systems (hypersonic strike weapons) that could “eventually” replace current systems we need to deploy systems today that represent the state of the art.
    UAV’s are well along the way to providing ground support by dropping bombs. There are two main issues that will not be easily solved. Putting hundreds of UAV’s in the air cannot be done due to electronic bandwidth limitations. Also, there is currently no one who believes that UAV’s can take on the air to air role in the next twenty years.
    We must be cautious of the promises of future technology being so good that we can “skip” a generation of weapons waiting for these magical systems.

  • Drake

    RE; Total
    The Su-35 Irbis-E radar, Pulse Doppler radars, R-172 AAM-L missile, R-37 Arrow missile, R-77-ZRK ramjet missle… etc.
    And as TexasJames put it so well: the SA-21/S-400 Triumf, or China’s HQ-9 you should also do some looking into before uttering an uneducated and naive comment.

  • Jeffrey

    Not to play conspiracy theorist, but I think it was a great move to cancel the F22. Everyone knows how popular this aircraft is amongst politicians. When you’re trying to cut spending you toss a lot of the junk like Gates did. But by killing something un-killable, it increases the likely hood you get more money for your budget then you otherwise would while making Gates look good. There is no way the F22 will dies, it means too much to too many politicians. They’ll give Gates his budget and tag on some more to keep the F22 alive.

  • Greg

    I have noticed that they have been trying to sell this to us for a long time. I completely agree with you Drake. Yes we need to adequately produce the numbers we need. This permanent third generation war stuff is just plain stupid. It is pretty plain to see that most of America is behind this plane. How many people have you ever heard complaining about it? Gates made such a big deal about this plane, yet he forces thousands of mraps that aren’t even useful in afghanistan down the army and marines throats. Gates is pushing our airforce down the tubes. I DO NOT SUPPORT GATES.

  • Pat

    Greg, the MRAPs had as much to do with Congressional and high level military pressure than it did with Gates and his office. Congress also forced the A10 down the Air Force’s throat way back when, and that was a terrific idea. The MRAP just turned out to be less so. What I did like about the MRAP though was how quickly we mobilized and got them produced. I think that by itself was worth the cost of the relatively useless weapon, since it proves American industry and the military can still do something right when they perceive the threat to be large enough (or Congress is forceful enough).

  • ewok40k

    We need F-22 versus what? 300-400 Russian Flankers, a third of them grounded for lack of maintenance? Or less than 100 Chinese ones?
    In fact both F-22 and F-35 should be cancelled, and F-15/16/A-10 proven triad re-produced. Or we end up with a 1/10th air force of 1980s.
    Remeber the fate of Me-262 – it was revolutionary, great aircraft. Just too few in numbers to do something about literally thousands of US aircraft over Reich.

  • Ryan

    Look, we have a limited budget. We can’t afford to defend against every conceivable threat that someone dreams up. We have to place our bets, and Gates is making the very reasonable bet that our future wars will be dirty, irregular wars similar to Afghanistan. This is a far more likely scenario than some high-tech space war with China or Russia. War between the US and either of those countries would be massively detrimental to both sides, not to mention the global economy. Everybody has a massive stake in making sure that never happens.

  • Brian

    A new F-22 currently runs us about $140 million. Do you know how much an F-35 will cost? No? Neither does anyone else. Because it isn’t operational yet. The Raptor is the ONLY operational next generation fighter that anyone has. The production lines are open. They are being built RIGHT NOW.
    Will we need a 5th generation fighter in the future? Ten years from now? Twenty years from now? Forty years from now? Abso-lutely. Without question. What is the cheapest way to get a fifth generation fighter? Buy the Raptor right now. If we close the production lines and have to restart them later, it will be a monumental expense. Remember, when they did a limited run of F-15s in the 90s, those things were costing about $100M a pop. Reopening the Raptor lines will be prohibitably expensive, as will designing a new aircraft. If you think the F-22 is expensive today, wait until you see what a new jet designed in 2020 from the ground up will cost.
    Unlike the FCS, unlike the DDX, unlike any of the other cut programs, the Raptor actually works. We aren’t talking about cost overruns in 1993, when nobody knew if the thing was going to fly. The Raptor works, and from every scrap of testimony, it is totally bad ass.
    We’re talking about cutting a fighter that works and is in production in favor of a jet that won’t enter production for another five years that hasn’t even entered testing.
    You want to save money? Buy the Raptor. Delaying it is like driving a car until the engine falls out. You save money now, because you aren’t paying for upkeep or replacement parts. But you pay for it in the long run.

  • Brian

    In the second paragraph, that’s “prohibitively” expensive.

  • Drake

    A limited budget?!?!?! Ummm… 2009 defense spending is UP 4%… Oh yea, and the $2.2 Trillion in tax money just spent… Marvelous!
    Not to be pompous or condescending but knockin on China and Russia’s ability to produce high tech gear is utterly retarded.
    For the past 50 years the US has dominated land, air and sea other nations have been patiently waiting and anticipating out next moves. Stealth is a cold war era concept that we exploit hardcore. They know this, and either steal or development means to wreck havoc on that Tech Edge the US has.
    Ryan – “We have to place our bets, and Gates is making the very reasonable bet that our future wars will be dirty, irregular wars similar to Afghanistan.” –This is just an asinine comment… Why should these dirty, irregular wars be our (USA) responsibility? Why should we transform our USAF to fight this kind of war solely??? If it’s our intent to do this we might as well build prop planes and more A-10’s…
    China’s got our currency nuts in a massive vice with a massive armed force build up in progress. As does Russia. The Su-35 and PakFa will be low cost, packed with high tech and spank the crap out of ANY legacy teen series jet we have plain and simple.

  • Crusty Dude

    SecDef Gates said he’d listen with an open mind to the USAF F-22 requirement and would NOT even take the compromise/moderate risk force size briefing the AF built for him. Cancelled the appointment like 7 times. That’s the nature of thisman, Gates. Acts like an open-minded, big thinking statesman in public but behave like a dirty-trick, arm-breaking thug.
    Mr President, is this what you meant when you told your AF combat veteran/Campaign advisors that you’d give the F-22 Program its fair day in court? Is this what you meant by “Change we can believe in?” My advice to you Mr President as an AF combat veteran: Dump Gates Now. He’s a Rumsfeld in a statesman’s costume…and Schwartz and Donley are the anti-Shinsekis.

  • Ryan

    The budget is only up 4% because it includes spending for the wars, which was previously pushed into mid-year supplemental spending bills. In actuality, the budget has been cut slightly, which makes sense given the current recession.
    I’m not knocking China or Russia’s ability to produce high-tech weapons. I’m saying that they will never use them against us. Why would China attack the US militarily when, as you say, they have “our currency nuts in a massive vice”? If they want to hurt America, they can do it without firing a shot. Why would they risk confrontation in an arena where the US is clearly dominant?
    You could argue that they might sell their weapons to people who want to hurt us, but Al Qaeda is not shopping for fighter jets, which is what the F-22 exists to destroy. The combination of our current F-22 arsenal, the F-35, and AWACS will utterly dominate any other air force for decades to come.

  • Ryan

    @ Crusty Dude — Gates’s rejection of the F-22 doesn’t make him close-minded. With contracting spread out over 46 states, you can bet he caught holy hell for this from Congress. It’s safe to say that he’s heard the case for the F-22 loud and clear. Is is so hard to imagine that he heard the case, and decided it wasn’t very good?
    Your swipes at Obama for this are ludicrous. Were you aware that McCain is an enthusiastic supporter of Gates, and this new budget?

  • Kevin

    “I’m ok with stopping further purchases as long as the production tools and knowhow are maintained. Reopen the line in a few years and build another block then.”
    Santa isn’t going to bring you a 72″ LCD TV, and you can’t restart a line after it’s closed.
    Who is going pay the thousands of employees who know how to assemble the aircraft and it’s subsystems, or are you expecting them to just wait around for free?
    Do you expect the manufacture to dedicate a factory to not making any airplanes?
    The long lead time parts are several years out. Once you shut it down you need several years to order parts for the first aircraft, except that the tooling and jigs at the subcontractors will be gone, as they need to make money.
    Heck a lot of the subcontractors will be out of business over the next few year as the Obama tax in inflation our way to prosperity plan takes effect.
    Once it is closed it’s over.

  • Ryan

    Again, the US budget is not unlimited. I know it sounds harsh to the workers building the F-22, but I would rather have our budget dollars going to projects that actually make us safer versus expensive weapons whose utility is highly speculative.
    The fact that a weapon system employs lots of people is not a good argument for continuing its development/production.

  • Drake1

    Gates made sure F-35 has more employed than F-22 Ryan. Regardless, lets shift the argument away from the hackneyed for or against argument…and more towards what the odds are Congress will have its way.
    Question is who is going to win – Gates or Congress. Obama has no backbone with his own party, and doesn’t want bad publicity for killing jobs. Gates gave the President a way out with these words.
    “Additionally, Gates says President Barack Obama is supportive of the changes he has proposed for Fiscal 2010. Gates has previously said Obama was aware that Gates was trimming some procurement programs but didn’t know all of the specifics.”
    Ares
    A Defense Technology Blog
    “The strategic review will run through the summer with the intent to have it wrapped in time to inform FY 2011 defense budget decisions”
    DODBuzz
    I think it’s safe to assume F-22 is not dead, but will funding be enough to give the Air Force their 240?

  • richardb

    About this being a feint because Gates knows Congress will fund it anyway. Possibly since last year Congress instructed Gates to buy 20 for this year and Gates parsed the language into just 4 Raptors which I think are the ones in the Supplemental. Its possible Congress, to assert its power over the Executive branch, will fund those 4 plus the 20 it thought it ordered last year. Then close the line for next fiscal year.

  • FRED

    STemplar..I agree, the F-22 is fantastic, and I’m a Brit for petes sake:) and the Russians are’nt .up to much at the moment. However thats now, not some time in the future. Putin said recently that he intends to spend $110B in the next three years on his military. I agree its a drop in the ocean compared to the DOD budget, but the Russian products are a lot less expensive, and he could therefore buy a lot more of them. As I mentioned elsewhere reports suggest that in any regular war, the F-22 and F-35 will operate in together, with the ratio of (future) US F-35’s to F-22’s will be about 14;1. This means that for every 15 or so Lightning II’s, you’d have 1 Raptor flying top cover. If the Russians get their act together and the PAK-50 is as good as they say it’ll be, there could be problems when it comes to air dominance, bearing in mind that the PAK-50 would probobly cost a lot less than the $140m-$160m Raptor. And then additional problems could occur, maybe over Taiwan, if the Russians sold them to the Chinese who’ AF already have over 400 SU30’s

  • Drake

    Highly insightful study done by the Rand center about -Future of Air Combat: http://www.scribd.com/doc/7774389/Rand-StudyFuture-of-Air-Combat

  • Drake

    What I would love to know is whether the Russian

  • DomionofOne

    The F22 needs to end now. Rumors are, that it was supposed to be 90 percent flight ready, but is barely 50 percent flight ready due to the stealth requirements. I even question the utility of stealth capability against a mythical high end opponent. End the few and expensive, just like Gates wants. Time for cheaper and more because someone is always going to get a lucky shot. F22, M1 tank, Aircraft carrier, Apache, are the best in the world, but are not invulnerable.
    The F-35 is more modern, and more useful, and is more favorable internationally. I would like to see the AF buy F35, Predator B/C, and maybe the F15K or F15SE, and B1R’s. That is some serious ground attack capability, with a small air to air capability, to go against the non existence air forces of our current and future mythical opponents.
    Once again, 700B dollars in defense is not enough to keep us safe against the ‘bad guys’ and ‘evil do’ers’?

  • XFactor

    How about a cheaper, non-stealthy F-22 with some of the more expensive and delicate technologies eliminated in favor of ruggedness and lowered cost? Surely there must be ways to innovate and evolve on this airframe. And you’d be in a much better position to revive the expensive option should the need arise.
    You don’t want this aircraft to become so precious that everyone is too scared to actually use it.

  • XFactor

    To save money, how about *not* spending several billion dollars on the alternate F-35 engine, which is really nothing more than a subsidy to GE for losing the main engine contract.
    Imagine the ongoing cost of two distinct F-35 engines from two manufactures with two distinct sets of spare parts, distinct maintenance procedures, two supply chains, etc.

  • RSF

    Focusing on present conflicts to the exclusion of future threats is a a reactive method of planning vs. a proactive approach. Both the Modern SU-30/35 Flanker and the new Chinese J-10 can defeat many of our legacy aircraft right now, not in the future. The F-22 is a proven fighter that is in production and is a not pipe dream like the F-35. To kill the Raptor while touting the JSF is pure spin. The JSF is billions of dollars over budget, late, and will be unable to handle the aforementioned air threats. With over half of the legacy fighters older then the pilots that are flying them, this decision is penny wise and pound foolish.

  • Prometheus

    187 Raptors to replace 660 F-15 is too few.
    The AF planes to fly the F-15 till 2025, really?
    Also the F-15 “E” strike eagle needs to be replace starting 2025.
    The great illusion is the fact that Gates seems to think that the AF can & will buy 1763 F-35A till 2030.
    And they stil believe till 2035 3000 JSF.
    Both Things will never happen.
    If the AF gets all 381 Raptors they will cost almost the same as an JSF.
    I would say:
    600 Raptors and 900 F-35A would be a very good deal for the AF.
    Around 2025 make a Strike Raptor to replace the F-15E.

  • Waza

    @CJ
    I agree completely.

  • Prometheus

    Does anyone really think the AF can keep 178 Eagle beyond 2025?
    And just put AESA & Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System on them and be done with it?
    If you bulit 381 Raptor the price will not be so different from a JSF.

  • Drake1

    That is the problem with trying to update your entire force (completely unrealistic) with next generation aircraft. What

  • Total

    “Focusing on present conflicts to the exclusion of future threats is a a reactive method of planning vs. a proactive approach”
    Obsessing about future threats to the exclusion of present conflicts is an approach that risks _losing_ current conflicts and substantial casualties.
    So, you tell me: how many casualties are you willing to accept in Iraq/Afghanistan in order to buy extra F-22s? 10? 100? 1000?

  • Recon-Team

    In my opinion, the USAF should buy a fleet of 520 F-22As and 1300+ F-35As. Besides for these, upgraded F-15Es should remain in service as well as A-10Cs. We should look into developing the F-22 into a strike aircraft like the proposed FB-22, and we should consider possible long term replacements for the A-10C.
    Despite what some say, the F-22A still has a ground attack capability and can carry JDAMs in the main bays or on wing hardpoints externally. It can also carry JSOWs externally. An upgraded “F-22B” could include a system like the EOTS on the F-35 as well as capability for other weapons.

  • Ryan

    @Recon-Team — 520 Raptors?! Do you have some money trees somewhere that I don’t know about? The fact that you’ve narrowed it down to such a specific number is hilarious.
    Developing a bomber variant of the F-22, sounds like a great idea as well. With the F-22’s awesome range and payload, it would be unstoppable. I’m sure we could find the money for it if we just stopped equipping our troops with body armor and rifles.
    You’re right. The F-22 is a great strike aircraft. That’s why they’re being rushed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Wait…?

  • Kalroy

    I was outside smoking a cigarette when an F-22 and an F-16 flew overhead and began maneuvering. I’ve never seen anything like it, in video or video games. My jaw dropped and several times I thought the F-22 would fall out of the sky. They were both low and at one point I thought the F-22 was going to flatspin and crash on HWY 58. I’m assuming it was the thrust vectoring nozzles, but that kind of Immelman was possible on the old powerhouse rotaries and the modern Immelman looks nothing like the 180 degree mid-air turn this thing did.
    I worried the entire time because we just lost an F-22 out here and a seasoned experienced test pilot. But my jaw was on the ground the entire time.
    I have a new respect for the F-22, doing moves I can’t do in videogame unreality.
    Kalroy

  • pfcem

    Total,
    Buying more F-22s (thus far we haven’t even gotted HALF of what we need much less extra) would not result in even 1 casualty in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else.
    How many THOUSANDS of lives are you willing lose in some future conflict in order to spend money that SHOULD HAVE BEEN spent on F-22s on whatever it is you thing said money should be spent on?

  • STemplar

    I simply ask again, who are we going to need hundreds of fighters against? The Chinese are not going to shoot at their biggest investment and we are not shooting at our national debt banker, it’s not happening.
    The Russians are a joke. I don’t care what they can design or even build, they do not have the industrial capacity to support nor deploy any significant expeditionary capacity.
    “amateurs talk capabilities, professionals talk logistics”
    We know we are going to be on the ground for some years, upwards of a decade probably in Stan and Iraq. It is highly likely we will be involved in Pakistan in some way. Africa is going to pose much the same challenge. Those are the conflicts we are going to be in.
    We don’t need stealth fighters. What we need are more helicopters, lots. COIN capable aircraft, not necessarily specific air frames like a turbo prop. I like the idea of reopening A10 production alot better with a COIN variant, like 2 seat and maybe a 25mm gun for more ammo.
    The Chinese are not stupid and they are not trying to beat us at our game. They are building missile attack boats, diesel subs, and now apparently anti-ship ballistic missiles, to push our carriers outside of operational range. We need a ton of ASW emphasis, we need counter cruise missile capability.
    This is what Gates is talking about when he said adding capability to something we already have overwhelming superiority in does us no good. No one is going to mount any kind of serious challenge to our fighters. No one has the kind of money necessary to invest in either the numbers, nor the logistical footprint required to field that kind of air force.
    Gee what a big surprise too, Boeing and the F15SE package. I mean they aren’t even trying to be subtle rolling that out literally days after Gates calls for axing the F22s. AESA radar on a couple few squadrons of them, acting with the F22s we have and we own the air.

  • Ryan

    @pfcem — “Buying more F-22s (thus far we haven’t even gotted HALF of what we need much less extra) would not result in even 1 casualty in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else.”
    Shovelling all that money into a fire pit wouldn’t result in a single casuality in Iraq or Afghanistan. That doesn’t make it a good idea.
    @STemplar — Thank you for talking some sense. The Russia/China war highly, highly, HIGHLY unlikely.

  • Total

    “Buying more F-22s (thus far we haven’t even gotted HALF of what we need much less extra) would not result in even 1 casualty in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else.”
    Sure it would, because we wouldn’t be buying stuff that those guys needs (cf Humvees, unarmored). So again, how many extra casualties are you wiling to risk to buy more F-22s in the wars _we are actually fighting_?

  • pfcem

    Ryan,
    Problem is you implied (actually pretty well outright said) that buying F-22 WOULD cause extra casualties in Iraq &/or Afghanistan. It won’t.
    ***
    Total,
    BS. NO money would be taken away from ANYTHING that would in ANY WAY prevent ANY casualties in the current conflict in order to pay for F-22s.

  • STemplar

    Putin has made a lot of noise, he made that based on $140 a barrel oil too, which went bye bye. The world economy is taking wind out of everyone’s sails, including his.
    Articles about how cool Flankers are don’t impress me, show me some articles where the Russians can reliably produce the parts and supply them forward in a conflict. The planes aren’t relevant.
    The Indians are becoming exasperated with the logistical shortcomings of the Russians in regards specifically to aircraft, so again, the Russians are a joke.
    I looked at the posted Rand study as well. It’s all very interesting, but it assumes the US is even going to engage the Chinese over Taiwan, which I’m not convinced we would. Further, I think the Chinese want to intimidate Taiwan into reunification without forcing it. Taiwan would become their Vietnam if they force it.
    My counter to China would be to not engage them in a way they have anticipated. I’d be more inclined to supply Taiwan with what they need to make the island a insurgency nightmare. Use our navy to intercept all oil shipments to China far outside the combat area. Make them come out to deep water away from their land bases.
    In any event, the Russians are a joke along with their goofy president, or PM, or poobah, or whatever that knucklehead Putin refers to himself as. The Chinese are not going to shoot at their 401k.

  • Robert Foster

    Yes, and I could use the word overload to describe the USAF flying our present legacy aircraft 10, 15 and some 20 years longer then they were designed for. The F-22 was designed to replace the F-15, and killing the Raptor program means that our pilots are still flying airplanes that need replacement. The F-35 is not designed to be an air superiority fighter and Mr. Gates support of this aircraft ignores the billions of dollars over budget that the JSF is. Developing an export version of the Raptor could enable the production of the plane to continue, allowing the USAF the ability to purchase that plane in small amounts. This would also enable our allies to fly a plane capable of dealing with the new Russian fighters (which they have been asking for).

  • Total

    “BS. NO money would be taken away from ANYTHING that would in ANY WAY prevent ANY casualties in the current conflict in order to pay for F-22s.”
    Of course it would. You are woefully ignorant of how defense budgeting works and has worked if you think that this isn’t the case. Why do you think the Navy doesn’t have the small ships necessary for anti-pirate operations? Because the big ship acquisitions ate up the whole budget. That’s just one of many examples.
    So I’ll ask a third time: how many casualties are you willing to accept in Afghanistan and Iraq to buy more F-22s?

  • Total

    “Statements on “obsessing on future threats” reflect the naive idea that because we are involved in ground conflicts not needing stealth fighters, that somehow the rest of the world has taken a hiatus from developing 21st century fighter aircraft.”
    No, it’s the recognition that we shouldn’t neglect the wars we’re fighting right now to overload for some potential future threat. And “overload” is the right word. 183 F-22s is still 183 more fifth generation fighters than anyone else has deployed.

  • Total

    “The F-22 was designed to replace the F-15, and killing the Raptor program means that our pilots are still flying airplanes that need replacement.”
    The F-22 was designed to replace the F-15 in a world in which the Soviet Union still existed and the Cold War was still going on. It’s not anymore and we’re fighting different kinds of conflicts at the moment. How about we work on winning those, instead of of beating the Commies?

  • STemplar

    I’ve read the various articles on Russian aircraft, it is still an amateurish approach. I don’t care what they desgin, if they can’t keep up with the parts needed to keep them in the air, it isn’t relevant. Capabilities are interesting when debating which will do better in a video game, but in the real world the logisitcs of being able to deploy and system and maintain it in theatre are all that matter.
    Comparisons with the Chinese are interesting, but for the Chinese to shoot at us would be the equivalent of shooting at the bank that holds your retirement money. It isn’t going to happen.
    In regards to wars won in the 21st century, have there been any won? Iraq and Stan? We would have had air superiority if we showed up in crop dusters and zeppelins.
    It really is pretty simple, we don’t need more Raptors. We can’t afford more and everything else we need too. I think some buys of these new F15SEs with AESA radar would be an excellent complement to the existing F22s and far cheaper.
    I’m sorry, but putting the money towards the operations we are likely to be involved in, as opposed to some sort of Tom Clancy fictional match up is a pretty easy decision in my mind. We can’t afford both.

  • DRM

    We are the debtor the Chinese are the lenders. They will catch up if they have to beg borrow and for sure steal. This move in technology is not for now, but for what conflict that may be coming in the future. No nation would wage a constant cyber war and strive to develop every modern weapon system it could conceive, while trying to conceal the development and the size of the budget, if confrontation was not a long term concen or goal. To supply all the natural recourses for a population of over a billon people can in itself put China at odds with other great nations for survival. If you do not have planes that can win in 20 fights and other edges in technology, you tell me how does a country with 300 million people win in a even fight against a population of a billion plus. The cut back of this obvious advantage should give you a glimpse about how this administration see

  • Total

    No nation would wage a constant cyber war and strive to develop every modern weapon system it could conceive, while trying to conceal the development and the size of the budget, if confrontation was not a long term concen or goal
    Bull. The U.S. started one of the largest naval building programs in the world after WWI; were we aiming to fight the British?

  • maybe_I_Know_something

    How come nobody talks about buying less F-35s and more F-22s. If we need to sacrifice capability I think we should sacrafice it on the ‘Lo’ end instead of the ‘Hi’ end of the Hi/Lo mix.

  • pfcem

    Total,
    It is you who are woefully ignorant of how defense budgeting works. Contrary to what ignoranuses like you want people to believe, the current conflicts are NOT being neglected AND there are litterally thousands of budget items that could/should/would be cut &/or delayed before anything that was actually contributing ANYTHING to the current effort.
    The Navy doesn’t have the small ships ‘necessary for anti-pirate operations’ because NO SMALL SHIPS HAVE BEEN NECESSARY FOR ANTI-PIRATE OPERATIONS. Even now that piracy has become more prevalent, ‘small ships’ is NOT necessarily the best way to deal with them. ;)
    Buying more Raptors would NOT result in ONE casualty in Afghanistan &/or Iraq. BUT not buying more F-22 COULD result in THOUSANDS of casualties in a future conflict due to the US inability to obtain &/or maintain air superiority.
    How about you pull your head out of the sand & realize that just because the Soviet Union no longer exists & the Cold War is over that that does NOT mean that major conflict is over.

  • nonito antonio cabato

    he is stupid to cancel the fighter F-22, it is already in production and it more stupid to export this plane to your allies. the purpose of this being built is for your airforce to have the best equiptment. it is stupid for PLAYING POLITICS for pilot lifes coz you have a stupid leader for playing POLITICS. its the best fighterplane in the world! up there in the sky its not a goddamm game boy its WIN or DIE
    you can improve it stealth by upgrading it, there no engineering problem that cant be solve. you want fly leagacy aircraft will fall apart in the sky. its wasteful to maintain an old aircraft
    so buy 1,000 of it, 800 F-35B for close air support and bomber. dont fight a war that not concern your security if you want fight guerrilla war use attack helicopter the army has plenty of it

  • Michael norton

    187 copys of the F-22 is like the german me-262. Not enough to win a war!!!!

  • Mike

    As an Air Force veteran I must say that I have a bias perspective on the F-22. Here are some questions you must ask before you say

  • unknown

    why the hell does every want to stop making f-22 its a awsome plane and for fuck sakes the f-35 sucks more then the fucking f/a-18 and that f/a-18 sucks.
    And are there any plans to reopen production in the near or unear future?

  • Spiff

    Hard to blame Gates, I am sure he was told by El Supremo to leave enough money in the Defense Budget for the Ted Kennedy Escape and Evasion Center in Massachusetts, and some other Democrat Party perks – gotta balance with priories you know, no need for the F-22 when compared with party needs!

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