Monday, April 6, 2009

SecDef Gates wants to kill F-22

Editor's note: While I agree with SecDef Gates opinion that the F-22 does not have much of a role in the war on terror, killing the F-22 is a terrible short-sighted idea. Although stealth aircraft are not needed over Iraq or Afghanistan, in the near future we most likely will have to deploy military forces to take out nuclear weapons sites in Iran, North Korea and quite possibly Pakistan if that government falls under the control of the Taliban. All three countries have sophisticated radar and anti-aircraft defenses that can only be thwarted by the F-22 and B-2.

Here's CNN's report:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a 2010 Pentagon budget Monday that reflects major changes in the "scope and significance" of Defense Department priorities.

One of the high-profile programs on the chopping block is the Air Force's most expensive fighter, the F-22 Raptor.

The proposed budget cuts several traditional big-ticket items while investing in programs designed to bolster the military's ability to wage an ongoing conflict against terrorists and other extremist elements in multiple regions at the same time.

Gates acknowledged that parts of the budget are likely to run into significant opposition on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are concerned in part about preserving valuable defense contracts for their districts and states.

"This is a reform budget, reflecting lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan," Gates said. "There's no question that a lot of these decisions will be controversial."

He called on Congress to "rise above parochial interests and consider what is in the best interests of the nation as a whole."

House Armed Service Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, acknowledged that congressmen have concerns about job losses in their home districts but said that ultimately, "the national interest overrides anything."

"The buck stops with us," he said. "We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us."

Three key priorities are reflected in the changes, Gates said.

The priorities are a stronger institutional commitment to the military's all-volunteer force, a decision to "rebalance" defense programs to better fight current and future conflicts, and "fundamental overhauls" of the military's procurement, acquisition and contracting process.

Among other things, Gates called for production of the Air Force's most expensive fighter, the F-22 Raptor, to be phased out by fiscal year 2011.

He also called for terminating a proposed fleet of 23 presidential helicopters estimated to cost more than $13 billion. The proposed fleet, he noted, was originally projected to cost $6.5 billion. It "has fallen six years behind schedule and runs the risk of not delivering the requested capability," he said.

Gates maintained that a new fleet of presidential helicopters will still ultimately be necessary, however.


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