The F-22 is the most advanced and capable fighter in the world. It needs to be built and deployed because we cannot afford to have someone else (China) build it and deploy against us. That is a simple inelegant fact of life. Secretary Gates thinks differently:
Air Force shakeup may spur spending shifts
Sun Jun 8, 2008 11:53am EDT
By Jim Wolf - Analysis Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The ouster of the Air Force's top two officials may spur even more Pentagon spending on equipment for current wars and end production of pricey F-22 jets designed for potential conflicts with countries such as China.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates forced the resignations of Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley on Thursday after gaffes involving nuclear and missile security.
The Air Force's accidental shipping of ballistic-missile fuses to Taiwan may have been the last straw amid strains over acquisition priorities, remotely piloted vehicles and other friction about post-Iraq needs, experts on the military said.
Starting months ago, Gates had singled out the Air Force's top-of-the-line Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) F-22 Raptor fighter jet as a prime example of what he deemed misplaced military priorities.
"The reality is we are fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theatre," Gates told a Senate committee in February. He later urged all the services to send more remotely piloted planes, such as General Atomics' Predator, to the battlefield, a step that feeds surveillance video to troops in real time.
Under Wynne and Moseley, the Air Force had sought to buy 381 radar-evading F-22s -- more than twice as many as the 183 budgeted by the Defense Department. The F-22 costs more than $132 million apiece.
Dov Zakheim, who retired as the Pentagon's chief financial officer in 2004, said the Air Force shake-up would prompt the Army, Navy and Marine Corps to rethink their big-ticket acquisition plans as well to make sure they met Gates' goals.
"What just happened underscores the secretary's concern that the (Defense) department pursue programs that are most relevant to the kinds of wars that he expects the United States to continue to fight," Zakheim said in a telephone interview.(more here)