Poll Results: Should the USMC Fly F-22s?

With the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff telling lawmakers yesterday that the Pentagon may not be able to buy as many F-35 Joint Strike Fighters as planned, it seems like a good time to share the results of a poll we ran two weeks ago asking whether the Marines should buy F-22s instead of F-35Bs.

First, here’s what sister site DoDBuzz quoted the new chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey, as saying to the House Armed Services Committee yesterday:

“I’m concerned about the three variants, whether we can afford all three.” In doing so, the chairman took a dramatically different line from other DoD leaders, saying not ‘We must have the jets and we’ll get their costs down,’ but ‘We need an airplane but we might not be able to buy [all] the ones we’re trying to roll out.’

While the Corps’ short take-off and vertical landing Bravo model has been making significant progress in flight testing this year, the jet remains on probation and some are beginning to wonder if the Marines even need a STOVL fighter. Heck, the Corps is alreeady hedging against problems with the B (whether it says this publicly or not) and preserving its tradition of flying off big-deck aircraft carriers by purchasing 50 F-35C carrier variant JSFs.

Now back to the poll. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece at DoDBuzz highlighting one Marine’s proposal for the Corps to buy a mix of light attack turboprops and 60 F-22 Raptors to complement its fleet of F-35Cs if the B model falls victim to budget cuts.

We asked you for your thoughts on this idea in our poll. We’ve published the results of that poll along with your best comments — and our responses to some of them — below the jump:

Poll Results:

As of this writing, we’ve received  2,639 responses to our poll asking if the USMC should buy F-22s:

1,678 — or 63-percent — of you voted in favor of the Marines Buying the F-22.

837 — 31-percent — said the Marines shouldn’t buy the F-22.

124 — 4.7-percent — voted for other options.

Here are some of the best comments about the idea:

Richard:

The Marines don’t need the F-35B or the F-22. The Marines need a plane like the A-10, Bronco type, or a mud fighter. Stealth is not needed to protect marines in most battles. These guys need a plane that can deliver weapons on target in a very short amount of time and be able to take damage like an A-10 or other mud fighter could. An F-35 is a wonderful plane but the wrong pick to protect the Marines. In Vietnam when an air strike was called in you would see an F-4 then an A-4 and when the single prop plane Skyraider would circle overhead and dive and deploy airbrakes and drop a bomb on a small target then the enemy was neutralized. Fast is not the weapon needed. The plane needed needs to be able to carry lots of weapons and be able to slow down enough to drop them on target. The F-22 is great for the AF and I wish the US Navy had a version to use. The marines need a different aircraft all together.

major.rod:

Poor poll choices. What about the obvious Plan B? The F-35C?

Specter_prime:

what we need is something that is rugged enough to fly from a carrier, has a huge payload, and can loiter…..and oh yeah provide its own fighter support just like the FA-18…..the F-22 …..landing gear will have to be strengthened, payload increased

As it stands right now, there does need to be some overlap in Aircraft….gets too expensive to have multiple platforms…..back in the mid to late 60’s …..the Airforce decided to get the F-4 Phantom II….a Naval/Marine Corps fighter…..the F-22 is not the answer

Jeff Carelson:

The USMC should buy/build a version of the USAF AC-130U Spooky Gunship…
For use in supporting USMC Ground forces there is no better platform.
Let the Navy and AF play up at altitude. Support of Ground Forces has been MC doctrine for as long as I remember… and the AC-130U handles that mission extreamly well.

— Editors note, the USMC is doing this with its KC-130 Harvest Hawk program

Terry:

The F-22 would have to be rebuilt as said above in order to reinforce the landing gear for carrier landings. The A-10 would not work in a war where we would have to fight for air superiorty. Afg. is fine for the A-10 but what would we do when the US Marines have to fight the Chinese communist in say ten years? The AC-130 gunship is again fine for Afg., but would not work where we don’t have supreme air superiorty. Besides the A-10s are getting to be very old.
Semper Fidelis,

Tipy

Fred:

The F-22 has no sea going capability. Can’t use a fleet carrier, can’t use any of the helo platforms like the Harrier or the proposed F-35B.

I was involved with the Marine Corps acceptance of the AV-8 Harrier on the ground side 1n 1971-72. TACP etc. That short runway/verticle capability is crucial.

I would like to see a sea going AV-8/A-10 blend. That is what the Corps needs for fixed wing support. Not a F-22.

Remember the mission.

Fred

Semper Fi

— Editors note, a modern light attack turboprop, similar to the old STOL OV-10 Broncos, might,and the key word is might, satisfy the need for a slow, loitering ground attack plane capable of operating from amphibious assault ships. But remember, the Broncos were pulled from service after proving too vulnerable to ground fire during Operation Desert Storm.

Bob:
The Corps does not need or want a strategic, all weather, Mach 2+, super cruise aircraft like the F-22. The key feature of the F-22 is its radar and its stealth – something not required by a quick and light force that is down in the mud with the bugs. The AV-8B was the perfect choice because it could stay with a moving force. The Corps is light and fast; it doesn’t need a strategic air-dominant fighter which could easilly be pulled from its support function to strategic functions like many of the Corps’ F-4s were in Vietnam. The only answer is the F-35B with the same short takeoff and vertical landing capabilities that makes the AV-8B so good.

You must keep in mind, the Corps uses air support far differently than any other service. The air assets of the Corps has the role of instant airborne artillery on demand when traditional artillery is still on the landing ships. It is also a Marine pilot supporting a Marine grunt and is the key to the air-ground team. In Vietnam you could tell when you had Marine air support by the color of the pilot’s eyes. When we received USAF air support you could hardly tell what kind of plane it was because it was so high. We want it low and pinpoint to keep moving as fast as possible.

rick Williamson:

The USAF has a hard enough time getting the F-22’s off the ground for routine training in a sterile environment. What will happen if the airframe ever got deployed to a foward operating area? Bad idea Leathernecks. USMC and the Warthog is made for each other.

Al Donahue:

As a former Marine aviator, I think we have gone mad. The F-22 at $150,000,000 each? Are you kidding? We’re broke now, and, who will we fight with it? President Eisenhower was right when he warned about the military-industrial complex. It’s in full force, building weapons systems that we don’t need at enormous cost, when they should be concentrating on combating IED’s, RPG’s, and fighting small groups of insurgents. This is the warfare of the future – not the Russians pouring thru the Fulda gap or fleets of bombers coming over the North Pole By the way, what does USMC air pride itself on? Answer – Close air support. Helping the Marine on the ground. What better platform than upgraded A-10’s at a probably a 10th of the cost. If necessary, hang a tail hook on them – strengthen the landing gear – make the wings fold.
Also VTOL – is it really necessary? Did that capability in the Harrier ever make any difference to Marines in battle? Don’t think so. A-10s would seem to be better than VTOL F-35’s with all the bells and whistles, and again at 1/10th the cost.

will:

I say talk to marine grunts see wat they would like supporting them in close ground support, an A-10 or a supersonic fighter jet.
semper

Rex:

A modified F-22 for Navy air superiority would be good. A modified A10 for Marine close air support would be great. However, a F-35B with its STOVL capabilities would also be great for Marine close air support because it would not require a full size aircraft carrier to operate. Also, the F-35B is fast and agile and can hold it’s own in air to air combat when required.

Rex

  • blight

    If the issue is the F-35B, can we JATO -C’s off a short deck carrier?

    • STemplar

      You can JATO a truck if you use enough JATO, question is how do you land?

      • blight

        Tailhook and arrestor wire.

        • STemplar

          Not on any short deck we have which are the amphibs. It would be cheaper to build a new ship in which case might as well just build regular carriers. Also, needing JATO packs for every launch means less of something else, bombs, fuel, marines, etc. Really bites into the operational tempo, boosts logistics though the roof which is something we are trying to reduce with some of the new systems on the Ford class. Then there is the wear and tear on the aircraft from being ‘fired’ like missiles as opposed to taking off like they are designed.

          On a side note the specialty C130 that was designed for the Iran rescue back in the day had retractable JATO systems. Very cool looking.

          • blight

            From a cost-effectiveness standpoint, we trade the hypothetical JATO packs for maintenance of the LiftSystem, and the -B trades range and payload for that capability to begin with. On the minus side, JATO packs are another potential explosive hazard that makes carrier operations dangerous.

            In wartime where we can expect higher airframe attrition rates we may have the luxury of writing off airframes like so. But in peacetime where procurement dollars are scarce and airframes are expected to last forever, JATO remains unpopular.

            I suggested the -C’s because they would be built for the stresses of high-G catapult launches and harsh landing from arrestor wires. If we didn’t have a -C, then redesigning the -A for that kind of thing would be cost-prohibitive, especially for a niche application.

          • blight2

            Blah, site deleted the post.

            I suggested JATO and the -C because the -C is probably the one that could take the stress (being ruggedized for catapult launch).

            The -B already makes significant sacrifices for LiftSystem, and I am simply wondering if those sacrifices make sense just for the sake of being able to take off from a gator carrier by STO.

            Perhaps in the long run, Marine gator carriers will get bigger. Perhaps the size of one of the older CVs (eg Kitty Hawk), and the addition of ski jumps and improved technology will mean a proper air arm for the Marines.

          • Smeghead

            For the uninitated, that would be the YMC-130H modified for Credible Sport:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Udbsb3cXlnY

            The crash in the first full-up test was human error. The system was to automatically sequence the rocket firing, but the engineers wanted to calibrate things, so they went manual. The plan was to fire the upper set of the forward-facing bottles while still some 20 feet in the air, fire the downward-facing set to cushion the landing, then trigger the second set of front-facing rockets once the aircraft was on the ground.

            Instead, both sets of forward-facing rockets were triggered while the aircraft was still in the air, and the vertical ones were never fired. The aircraft basically ended up at zero airspeed while still at a decent height off the ground. The end result is obvious.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Credible_S

            I’ve always maintained that Herky bird drivers are the craziest bunch in any air force. It doesn’t hurt that it’s always been a bloody marvelous aircraft.

  • chaos0xomega

    It sounds to me like instead of wasting x billion/trillion dollars on the F-35 for all three services, we should have instead spent considerably less money on upgrading and redesigning the A-10 for all three services…

    • tiger

      God , people think the world of the A-10. You don’t need a 30 mm cannon with wings for everything… Small, All weather, long loiter time, Easy to maintain, Stovl & cheap is what the Marines are in need of.

      • Tim

        Yes the 30mm cannon is nice, however i doubt that is the main reason people are suggesting the A-10. The amount of munitions the A-10 can hold on its hardpoints far surpasses the F-35 and F-22. The munitions is carries complements the true directive of USMC pilots…Close Air Support. How would you fit all this on a F-22/35? AGM’s, GBU’s, CBU’s, rocket pods, JDAM’s. Yes some can fit on them…but not all.

      • Sw614

        Maybe because the A-10 is robust, armored, has good loiter, and outstanding weapons capability. Simply the best fixed-wing CAS acft ever built. get smaller you get more vulnerability and less capability.

    • chaos0xomega

      Relax people, I was making an observation based off the quoted comments, no need to thumbs down me and jump down my throat.

  • Josh

    In the long run we should be saving money by having a common F-35 airframe. If you’re trying to replace the F-18,AV-8,F-16,and in some ways the A-10 the F-35 seems great if it can live up to the hype. It’s payload isn’t to awful considering it won’t need it’s stealth capability in an anti terrorism role. And if need be it’s just as capable in a dog fight as an F-18 or 16. Yes,there are single aircraft that can match some of the F-35’s capabilitys,but the 35 is as good as ALL of them. People expect a quantum leap in aviation design,and simply doesn’t happen.

  • William C.

    I’d love to see the Navy get a no-compromise, 5th generation strike fighter similar in capability to the F-22, but the Marines really doesn’t need it.

    If the Navy had such a fighter than I would like to see the Marines operate the F-35B and either the F-35C or F/A-18F to replace their current Hornets. The Navy could keep the F/A-18E.

    • William C.

      I’m not against the idea of a COIN light attack/observation aircraft for the Marines either, I wish Boeing would invest more in their OV-10X concept.

  • Ed!

    The Air Force had already thought of plans to adapt the F-22 to be an F/A-22 at one point. So why not try working on that for the Marine Corps? They would get the Super-Cruise Ability which the F-35 does not have. They would also get a plane that has been tested and put into production. Making it more able to do ground attack would just require software modifications and integration of the weapons into the avionics system. Then you just send a couple to test it and roll that out to everyone so they can work that package. Now you have more F-22s and they are split between the Navy and Air Force.

  • crazy

    Absolutely for two reasons. First it will be interesting to see what the Corps does with it ala Harvest Hawk and would they dare call it the MF-22?

    • Cheesed

      Huh? Are you confusing the F-22 with the V-22? That’s the only way this could make sense.

  • Sgt Jmack

    I’ve said it before, we need an aircraft that is as strong and as nasty as the A-10, but as fast as an F22.

    • Laurent tomas

      Dassault rafale anyone?

      • PMI

        Nobody wants the Rafale.

    • Cheesed

      Please tell me more; I’m listening.

    • blight

      You can’t have a strong titanium bath-tub /and/ supercruise. You’d pay more than the unit’s weight in platinum trying.

      • Riceball

        Not to mention speed comes at the cost of loiter time and the ability to move low and slow. Generally speaking, planes that are capable of flying at Mach speeds tend to not do so well at the low and slow, they’re generally either sluggish at slower speeds and/or they can’t fly slow enough to get a good visual on their target(s) due to fears of stalling. What the Corps needs is either something like the A-10 or a modern day version of the old A-1 Spad used in Vietnam.

  • Tomas

    Rafale?

  • STemplar

    The one size fits all is the problem. Just like the modularity idea for LCS. It’s a good idea it just isn’t working out cost effectively. I think the best approach is skip the redundancy and have services buy what they actually need.

    The USN needs something for fleet air defense, make a plane for that. It needs something for strike, make that. The USMC needs something for CAS, make that. We don’t need multi role for everyone all the time. Those roles can be divided between the two services.

    The USAF should have an air dominance platform and the policies regarding aircraft for the US Army should be relaxed to allow them to take over the A10s.

    • Jeff Wheeler

      You said it brother!!! I am getting sick and tried of this need for equipment needing to fit ALL of the services.

    • chaos0xomega

      Screw that noise. The A-10 should stay with the people that are in the best position to employ it effectively, and thats the Air Force. I haven’t heard any grunts in Afghanaland ever say that they wished the Army was flying the A-10 instead of the Air Force.

      • STemplar

        Have you ever heard them say the opposite? I doubt anyone looking for CAS in contact particularly cares who is flying what.

        • PMI

          Things have probably changed over the past several years as the AF has gotten better at the job due to experience but early onthere were plenty of ground pounders who didn’t want the AF anywhere near the battle space…especially among the Brits & Canadians.

          • Riceball

            Probably still do due to recognition issues, even as low and slow as the A-10 flies its pilots still have IFF problems with American vehicles don’t mention those of our allies. I don’t know if there have been many or any serious blue on blue incidents in Iraq of Afghanistan but I do know that during Desert Storm that AF pilots had (at least once) mistaken Marine LAV’s for Iraqi BMPs and have attacked British recon vehicles too.

  • Chris

    Wait for the Melinium Falcon.

  • Yes ( see the F4 Phnatom then 1960s as role model for MRF).
    & save $$$$$ in process.

  • Kski

    I still stand by my idea of dropping the F-35 program, funding a Super Harrier (AV-8B Upgrade, like the Super Hornet.) An a new addition of reinstating the OV-10.

    • William C.

      AV-8 is long out of production.

  • Josh

    If we lose our ability to launch STOVL aircraft off of LHD/LHA’s with the capabilities provided by either the AV-8B or F-35B, we cut our number of aircraft carries available to project air power overseas in half, having to rely only on the supercarries rather than the amphibious ships. The Marine Corps needs the STOVL technology.

    • STemplar

      Except they don’t deploy with more than half a dozen aircraft at a time. This sea control scenario that gets mentioned is all well and good but if we employ it you have to leave the ground pounders at home since there’s no room for them.

      Don’t get me wrong the power projection possibilities are interesting but hardly make or break. Plus losing the F35B wouldn’t necessarily mean ending CAS from amphibs. The X2 concept could be very interesting. Leveraging emerging platforms like the A160 drone also present interesting options for strike capabilities from the amphib’s.

  • Richard

    I was once talking with my neighbor, a Marine Corps pilot and an instructor. The AV-8B is very good at requiring high maintenance and sucking up FOD and very short ranged. F-35B would have to be far more impressive to fight as a VSTOL and the aircraft is too expensive. Improve on what we have. The A-10 is the perfect choice and in larger numbers with stealthy drones to take out anti-aircraft and stealthy fighters for support, sweet. Get some competent pilots in now and stop wasting money.

  • Vstress

    There are so many comments talking about modifying aircraft.

    It is extremely difficult to modify aircraft that are already built and tested. While small modifications work targeting pods etc., but things like landing gear can not just be “upgraded”. The whole aircraft experiences other loads on it and hence every part needs to be checked again!

    You might as well design a new aircraft for the same cost. Of course it can be done, but it carries a massive cost increase risk… which in this world means that it carries a serious risk of being cancelled altogether at some point.

    I’m a aircraft structures engineer… I know what I am talking about.

  • Billy

    Let the F22, F35, F18, and the A10 have *** together and then you get a plane that can do what the Marines need.

  • bart

    Me thinks the wings of an A-10 would need to fold about four times to park many on any carrier.

  • Roland

    For the (USA) country’s self defense preparedness. I would say USMC should buy a modified 1000 YS-23 with vertical takeoff, landing capabilities and with anti radar capabilities like that of PAK-FA and J-20.

  • Black Owl

    Giving the Marines the F-22 is a terrible idea. That does not compliment their mission whatsoever. What they need are A-10s and F/A-18E/Fs.

  • RICKY

    give them all they need,, and pay for it by doing away with the useless u.s. air force. the army and navy have plains ,the AF is just to launch space ships,

  • FtD

    Congress should scrap F35, navalise F22 and F/A22 then integrate drones to carry JDAM and other weapons for F22 to shoot

  • CH53EGNR

    The Marine Corps does not need the VSTOL capability. It does need to be carrier-borne. I do not see the reason why being able to take off and land like the AV-8B is such a high priority. If the govt has put as much time and money into some that is costing waaaaaay to much, maybe it is time to look for a plan B. The F-22 is not a good option at all. It costs too much and cannot be made into a carrier version. We should stick with what works (Hornets/Super Hornets) and maybe some P-51s or OV-10s for the CAS missions.

    • Guest A

      Yes, bring back the F4U Corsairs with enlisted NCO aviators….

  • Weland

    I think we are asking the wrong question… its should be phrased “Should the Navy Fly F-22s?”

    The Marines need the A10 and the F18E/F.

  • PolicyWonk

    If the Navy has the air superiority things squared away (and the Marines are rarely far away from the Navy), then the marines having a variant of the A-10 (or something similar) isn’t a bad option. That plane scares the daylights outta the bad guys, and remains perhaps the most effective ground support aircraft in the inventory (let alone history).

  • daniel

    being in the air force, i saw first hand the capabilities of the A-10. it would be PERFECT choice for marine aviation. especially with th GAU-8 cannon in the nose. excellent close air support. you do indeed need a slow mover instead of a fast mover.

    • Guest

      You are so correct about the A10. When the top AF guys said they wanted to retire the whole system, and that the F35 could take its place, then it came out that there was not even a working gun on the plane yet, it made me think back. When all of those tobacco guys held up their right hand, and SWORE to Congress that cigarettes were NOT ADDICTIVE. Hahahaha how can those officers, ALL GENERAL’s I would assume, can lie like that is beyond me.

  • DODAVATAR

    The Marines need strike aircraft to provide support for its primary fighting arm, the grunts. That said, the strike aircraft will require air cover, an aircraft such as the F-22 can provide that air superiority cover. Currently the FA-18 is tasked to provide both today, but perhaps not tomorrow. Thinking outside of the box, if an air superiority fighter has the range to provide cover anywhere in the world with a long loiter time, then the Marines could do with two aircraft, one a “take along” ground support aircraft, and the air superiority fighter, launched from a distant (ground) location to provide support for the strike aircraft. The Marines need a long range air superiority fighter what can perhaps fly from a distant base and loiter in the operations area to provide support.

    • Guest

      If the service did away with say….150 F35’s I wonder how many TRUE Close Air Support planes could be cheaply made. Such as that single engine we were going to buy for the Afghan AF, or even newer, updated A10’s. Say 5 of those single engines and 3 newer A10’s for every 1 F35 maybe? That would provide an extra say, 400 to 600 newer, less expensive planes to do the job CORRECTLY! Hmmmm maybe that makes too much sense.

  • jln

    If F-35 numbers are being scaled down for budget reasons, how do you consider F22s when they are more costly ?

  • USA

    i think the USMC shoud use the f22 in the future if we have more money and are at threat by another country with an air force. but if we do have the money now i would like to see the USMC using the f22 because as you know the f22 is in very low number right now and with the russians and the chinese giving us so much compitition now i think we should make the f22 in more numbers but not if we dont have the money for it because we dont NEED it right now.

    • Guest

      But why should the Marines have to spend their smaller funds for the F22? I agree we need more of them, but, the AF is responsible for Air Superiority, so, they should substitute the F22 for F35’s and the Marines get the planes they TRULY need, for close air support. And use their F/A18’s when needed.

  • godzillajet

    Yeah I have to agree, the F-22 would be a great plane for the marines but an A-10 like fighter would be even better. The Navy needs the F-22N, it would be able to secure air-superiority much better than the F/A-18E/F does.

  • Very good write-up. I certainly love this site. Continue the good work!

  • Guest

    I am asking this, because honestly I do not know but: How many times and how often did the Marines use a AV8 Harrier in a combat situation? Were there HONESTLY any other options as opposed to just being ABLE to use the Harrier, and lastly HOW EFFECTIVE WAS IT? If the answers are not often, and could have used others or not very effective, then, scrape the “B” model and build some TRUE CAS planes. Such as an updated A10 with even GREATER firepower and loiter time, with updated electronic packages. Just a thought :-)