It’s an Uphill Battle, But the F-22 Breaths On

Posted on June 24, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Reports of the demise of the F-22 stealth fighter may have been a bit premature.
The House Armed Services Committee, by a single vote, recently ordered the Pentagon to keep the program alive over the objections of Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, top Air Force brass and the Obama administration.
The administration’s plan to kill the Lockheed Martin F-22 project in favor of funding for needs it sees as more immediate has sparked outrage among lawmakers from both parties who argue the decision will threaten national security and cost tens of thousands of American jobs.
While the Pentagon has said it does not consider jobs when making procurement decisions, members of the committee said repeatedly that the federal government cannot afford to make spending decisions in a vacuum that excludes potential impacts on the economy.
“There are three reasons for doing this, priorities, jobs and our national defense,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), adding that cutting the program will cost jobs at both the prime and sub-contracting levels.
“We are talking about jobs all the time, unemployment is rising. There are 25,000 jobs directly impacted by the decision we make on the F-22. There are 70,000 jobs that are implied with it, they have a connection to it. That means we have the opportunity of creating and saving 95,000 jobs,” he said.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) said the new language, which would continue the program with the production of 12 new F-22s through 2011, is a modest investment that will keep the program alive as new technologies mature. He also chided the free-spending Pentagon for its new-found fiscal conservatism.
“Mr. Gates lecturing us on fiscal responsibility in the context of procurement is like listening to lessons of spiritual renewal from Jimmy Swaggart. It’s a little late in the game for the Pentagon to start lecturing us on what constitutes proper spending,” Abercrombie said.
During a briefing two days later, Gates said the bill’s F-22 language is “a big problem. I have a big problem with it,” though he stopped short of saying it could prompt a veto from President Obama.
Gates went on to say he is determined to continue to push for the cuts. His plan to scrub the F-22, he said, will not jeopardize national security and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be a worthy substitute.
“You know, a trillion dollars for the Joint Strike Fighter, a fifth-generation fighter that has some capabilities the F-22 is not a trivial investment in the future…And, frankly, to be blunt about it, the notion that not buying 60 more F-22s imperils the national security of the United States I find completely nonsense,” he said.

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