How to Game the F-22 Fight

By
Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Let’s say there’s this really expensive fighter aircraft that you don’t use in the two wars you’re fighting. You’ve got 183 of them coming, but that’s just not enough. Over the years you’ve typically said that you want 381 of them. But then the secretary of defense points out that you don’t use the planes in the two wars you’re fighting, and, to boot, the country is in an economic tailspin. So what do you do?

One option is to set up a PR campaign to portray the jobs created by manufacturing the F-22 as crucial in these dark economic times. But another is to tell reporters that — magnanimously! — you’re going to consider asking for fewer than 381 planes. So said the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwarz, as Roxana Tiron of The Hill reports:

Gen. Norton Schwartz said that the Air Force is looking to buy more than the 183 radar-evading F-22s now ordered, but fewer than the 381 planes the Air Force has insisted on in past years. …

The Air Force’s position is “driven by analysis as opposed to some other formulation, and I think it will withstand scrutiny,” Schwartz said.

Um. It’s a savvy move: you’re not going to be so unreasonable as to seek the huge numbers of aircraft that you’re not using in either hot war; you’re just going to ask for some larger number of the F-22. (Schwartz said he wasn’t going to comment on the specific number of F-22s he’ll tell Secretary Bob Gates he needs by March 1.) And it can work! Somehow, the Wall Street Journal portrayed the service’s abandonment of the 321-plane dream as a cut to the program, even though Schwartz is explicit about asking for more than the 183 aircraft. Savvy negotiating. But for a more, uh, skeptical view of an aircraft that isn’t used in either Iraq or Afghanistan, read this and this.

Update: Colin Clark at DODBuzz says the Air Force is going to ask for 60 more F-22s. That’s via Noah Shachtman.

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Categories & Tags: National Security| Obama| | | |

Comments

13 Comments

ModerateWarrior
Comment posted February 17, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

Just look at all the negative words you have in here, Spencer, ole buddy, like “unreasonable” and “fighter aircraft that you don’t use in the two wars you’re fighting”… Think of how “unreasonable” you will feel when the USAF has to go into Iran and blow the crap out of their nuke weapon storage sites protected by SA-20s. Then the CSAF will look pretty “savvy” to a pro-cynic such as yourself, but not to worry, he will be just as “magnanimous” when he's asked “how could ALL the LITTLE CYNICS have been SO WRONG about the F-22?”


The Pintwin1
Comment posted February 17, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

Just because we've haven't used the Raptor yet does not mean we would never use them (or, that we would ever use them). What we do know is that the combat life of our current fighters, including the F117, is near the end, and we would need a replacement of some type. As for the JSF, the Australians have written a detailed report on it's vulnerability to current anti-aircraft measures (see: http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-2009-01-Annex.html), and I suspect the Europeans recognize it as well.

Cancel an aircraft that's stealthy and can be configured as STOL, SVTOL, VTOL, or conventional, and substitute the JSF? I'd rather recind the “tax breaks” for the millions who don't pay any net taxes — that alone will save $100 Billion (See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gr…)


mark
Comment posted February 18, 2009 @ 4:08 am

This is a typical example of a journalist blowhard, who knew absolutely nothing about the aircraft or the air force requirements or the QDR before he wrote the article. So then he parrots the liberal beltway wonks.

Of course the F-22 isn't fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan — neither had air forces to speak of when the fighting started. But it's the height of ignorance to assume that the US won't find itself up against an opponent with Su-30s or something newer anytime within the next 40 years – which is what we're really talking about here – not the current wars.

You don't procure weapons for the last war – you design and procure weapons for the next 30-40 years.

And since control of the air is a prerequisite for every other military operation, the F-22 isn't just necessary — it's critical. Sorry, but we're going to need more than just MRAPS and kevlar vests for the next 40 years.


Veterans For America » News Analysis: February 18, 2009
Pingback posted February 18, 2009 @ 8:38 am

[...] of our injured troops and recovering veterans could we help instead of buying even one more F-22? Will this be sold to us as jobs program, when what is needed is better care for our war-weary troops and help for their deployment-strained [...]


Alfred Mahan
Comment posted February 18, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

I agree we can pass up the additional F-22's – because we need more battleships for the USN. We have not added any new BBs since WW2. Clearly, we need more now. I believe we can and should ignore this so-called “global financial crisis”. If there is a complete collapse in the economy, at least we'll have the battleships. I think everyone will draw great comfort from that.


JW
Comment posted February 18, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

We're not using our submarines or our anti-aircraft weaponry in either Iraq or Afghanistan either… I presume Ackerman thinks that we should probably scrap any procurement programs to update those systems too.


carr1on
Comment posted February 18, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

I think the F-22 is a great plane. I also think it is way too expensive. You guys should read Mark Bowden's account of the challenge our pilots took this last summer in the India COPE exercises. India, using older Russion jets costing literally under a million dollars per, were able to compete and in some cases beat our front line planes.
The point is that the rest of the world is looking to cheaper air platforms that can be juiced up with readily available avionics, radars, and weapon systems. Then here we come with a ridiculously priced $183MM per airplane. Is it better? Sure it is. But at that ridiculous cost point? How many more F-16s could we build? Or [insert otherplane name here]?


Skeptic
Comment posted February 18, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

That's a good point. Why ARE we building more submarines? To sink the Imperial Japanese Navy all over again? Or to keep Joe Lieberman happy?

This is not just a question about whether these weapons are actually needed, but also about opportunity costs: What do we NOT have because we are buying these expensive weapons for a possible future war? Perhaps we should put the money into a larger Army? How about more training and professional military education? How about better benefits for wounded veterans? One F-22 could probably buy a whole lot of assistance for the families of those veterans. But I guess that would be socialism.


Larry
Comment posted February 19, 2009 @ 6:57 am

Why are we building more submarines, primarily because they are the dominant warfighting instrument of the sea today. Primarily because the Chinese are rapidly catching up to us both quantitatively and qualitatively under the sea. Primarily because they are the most effective threat to submarines that might want to threaten our aircraft carriers. It's only because of our two generation technology advantage over the rest of the world that we don't have to worry about actually sinking the rest of the worlds' navies.


Test Multi-links « Publish2 Test Blog
Pingback posted February 25, 2009 @ 10:45 am

[...] How to Game the F-22 Fight And here’s the corrective to Mark Bowden’s story on the F-22. [...]


steve weir
Comment posted February 27, 2009 @ 7:03 am

I'd like to make a comment on this article: I'm from Sydney, Australia.
An aspect of this debate which Americans seems to be oblivious to is a psychological one – the US is in a financial crisis, a crisis affecting most of the developed world. This crisis has been described as an erosion of confidence. The US sees its pre eminent position in the world being gradually eroded by the growth of China, Russia, India etc, especially in the military sphere. The F22 is the very pinnacle of technological and military power and is an important asset to the US both in practical strategic terms as well as to project the demenour of power. The implementation of the F22 program and the rollout of the full compliment is not only strategically necessary to maintain air superiority,. it is also important for the overall confidence of the American psyche. I would also stress that the ban on export sales to close Allies is very retrograde and damaging. The US should equip close allies like Australia with the F22 to both increase the strategic military footprint of the US and its sphere of influence. Witholding the F22 is a big mistake. The Russians share no such qualms with their military technology and beside earning vast amounts of money, are extending their power and prestige greatly by exporting state of the art fighter aircraft.
As a matter of urgency the US must invest in the full production of the F22 and also sell it to close allies like Australia and Japan. If this is done it will have such a positive effect on the US economy and psyche that it will easily pay for itself.


steve weir
Comment posted February 27, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

I'd like to make a comment on this article: I'm from Sydney, Australia.
An aspect of this debate which Americans seems to be oblivious to is a psychological one – the US is in a financial crisis, a crisis affecting most of the developed world. This crisis has been described as an erosion of confidence. The US sees its pre eminent position in the world being gradually eroded by the growth of China, Russia, India etc, especially in the military sphere. The F22 is the very pinnacle of technological and military power and is an important asset to the US both in practical strategic terms as well as to project the demenour of power. The implementation of the F22 program and the rollout of the full compliment is not only strategically necessary to maintain air superiority,. it is also important for the overall confidence of the American psyche. I would also stress that the ban on export sales to close Allies is very retrograde and damaging. The US should equip close allies like Australia with the F22 to both increase the strategic military footprint of the US and its sphere of influence. Witholding the F22 is a big mistake. The Russians share no such qualms with their military technology and beside earning vast amounts of money, are extending their power and prestige greatly by exporting state of the art fighter aircraft.
As a matter of urgency the US must invest in the full production of the F22 and also sell it to close allies like Australia and Japan. If this is done it will have such a positive effect on the US economy and psyche that it will easily pay for itself.


More on the F-22 « Later On
Pingback posted March 3, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

[...] Spencer Ackerman writes in the Washington Independent: If you want to read a scathing attack on the F-22 fighter jet, make sure to check out this piece at DODBuzz, co-written by retired Air Force Col. Robert Dilger [...]


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