Colin Clark at DoDBuzz sees the trip - an unusual one for Gates - as a move to defend the jet. According to Clark, a major national newspaper has a critical story in the works.
Our friend Philippe Grasset at dedefensa.org riffs on Clarks theme, arguing that Gates has painted himself into a corner by depicting the F-22 as wasteful and unnecessary. Now, Grasset argues, the idea is taking hold that the F-22 was just the beginning of a war on all high-tech weapons.
Gates, Grasset writes, 'will have to get people to accept the idea that all the arguments fired at the F-22 have no merit against the F-35, even though the F-35 looks like the F-22's brother in most of its faults, and may be worse in some. On lui souhaite bonne chance,' Grasset concludes. Translation: 'Good luck with that.'
Even independent analyst Loren Thompson is beginning to sound worried. Its going to be an interesting month, with the engine war still raging and a reconvened Joint Estimating Team reviewing the progress of flight testing and development.
As Bob Cox reports, problems with the secondary power system of BF-1 have kept it grounded - and the goal is now to get BF-1 and BF-2 to Patuxent River during September, after which the careful build-down to vertical landing can start. Four JSF flight-test aircraft that should have flown by now (according to the schedule published in January) are still firmly on the tarmac. I wonder if all of them will be lined up neatly today for Gates and Carter to inspect."