Tuesday, July 14, 2009

F-22 Debate Continues

Monday, July 14, 2009

AFA members, Congressional staffers, Civic leaders, and DOCA members, there is a fight going on in Washington about the F-22. In short, the Obama Administration thinks 187 aircraft are enough, while many in Congress think we need more.

AFA sides with Congress on this issue. We point out that the 187 number is already 186 since one has crashed. And we say that 186 means only about 100 operational -- given those in training, depot, test, etc. Can we really believe that in the next 30 years, we will not be faced with a situation where our ground forces will not depend on air dominance; where we would not want the skies clear so our A-10s and UAVs can operate freely; and where the US military won't be called upon to strike a highly defended target? We believe 100 operational aircraft presents a higher risk than is necessary for the nation. Others agree with our assessment.

As in any political fight, there are those who write and say things which are not factually accurate. That happened last Friday AM when the Washington Post published, on the front page, an article which claimed the F-22 had maintenance and other major problems. Both the Air Force and AFA have responded ... noting the many inaccuracies of the piece. We put on our web site a short paper which lays out the actual facts. You can find it here.

On Monday, the President signed a letter to the Senate, threatening a veto if funds for the F-22 were included in the Authorization bill. An additional letter was signed by Sec Gates and ADM Mullen. You can find both letters here and here.

Last week, the office of Sen Chamblis [R-GA) asked AFA for our views. I responded with a letter to Senator Carl Levin, (D-MI), that can be found here: AFA Letter to Senator Levin. Also, I penned an op-ed ... which has yet to be published. It can be found on our website here.

Another viewpoint is from an op-ed written by Senators Hatch and Inhofe can be found here.

Additional viewpoints from the commander of Air Combat Command can be found here and the Air National Guard can be found here.

The state of play is as follows: The Senate votes today or tomorrow on the issue. Next the Appropriations committees of both the House and Senate take up the question. [The House has already added funds for the F-22 in its Authorization bill.] We will keep you informed of the status daily with postings on the AIR FORCE Magazine's Daily Report.

For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Lt Gen, USAF (Ret)


Ray in Blue Ridge said...

While I'm no doubt in the minority, I side with the President and Secretary Gates. I am ashamed of the rhetoric coming from retired general officers in opposition. Please, just salute the flag and march on.

Col. Ray Beery, USAF-Ret.
Lansdowne VA

Jim Ginger said...

I feel in my bones that the Air Force will need a larger complememt of the F-22. I pray that the congress thinks likewise.

Jim Ginger

Unknown said...

Deja vu Vietnam --well at least we'll have a gun.

John Boyd must be turning over.
The F-35 is high wing loaded like the Thud -- it can't turn.

Not a pound for air to ground.

Unknown said...

More reading here:

Attacking the F-22 with yellow journalism.


Unknown said...

See Youtube.com

(video with 422TES pilot describing dog fight abilities of Indian SU-30 MKI) says F-22 is the best.

At the end of the video this 422TES Pilot says 422 TES does a lot of work with F-35 and won’t comment on dog fighter abilities of the F-35. He would rather have a Block 50 F-16 than the F-35.

Unknown said...

The first thing that needs to be done is insure that all the work on the F-22 is done in the United States. The second thing is to insure that small businesses are included in subcontracting as promised when F-22 funding was first approved.
I was involved during the very early stages of the first F-22 air plane to be built. As a small disadvantaged business, 8a, HubZone and Disabled Veteran Owned, I saw contracts being performed out of the U.S. that were original performed by my company. Even after receiving letters of commendation for outstanding support in every way.
It would be interested to know how many contract awards were made to small businesses and companies like mind as promised during all the presentation to congress during the sale of the F-22 proposal. In addition, it would be interesting to know how much we could have saved in total cost if small businesses were used as promised.

Jerry Phillips
D J Phillips Enterprises, Inc (Alphatech Systems, Inc.)

Unknown said...

I worked in TAC requirements for a total of 10 years during the "Century" series of fighters and other planes such as the C-130. All had problems at one time or other during their life. They were not complicated (by todays standards) as the F-22. We need new equipment in many areas. Just look at the fleet age. Reg Holden, USAF Retired

Castonguay said...

I'm in complete agreement with Col Ray Beery. The Air Force Association and its president ought not be used as a platform (soap box) fight official DOD/USAF policy. Let Secretary Gates and General Schwartz and their staffs do the job they are in place to do. We all know the chain of command--let's get in line and support it!

Col Joe Castonguay, USAF, Ret
Olympia, WA

Unknown said...

SecDef (and CSAF, for that matter)have the priorities correctly stacked -- no more F-22s. As splendid a fighter as it is, the country and USAF can ill afford to acquire more. There is a zero sum game here and we must get behind what our warfighters and country need most. AFA has taken the wrong position on this issue while ignoring more pressing needs. Enough already -- stop lobbying the F-22.

Col John Chilstrom, USAF-Ret

Unknown said...

It is amazing how we forget where Congress, the contractor team and the DOD/USAF combined created this mess. We have invested $14B and 24 years to develop this aircraft and achieve IOC 12/05. Now we are ready to stop production of the world's most advanced fifth generation LO aircraft after committing this nation's Air Force to stealth option ten years ago? Have the threats gone away or have they increased? Have our strategic policies changed or broaden?

We lose sight of history, and why we made the decisions we made. Now is NOT the time to stop production when the threats around the world are changing and increasing! Is an F-15 that has fatigue issues able to survive in today's high intensity combat situation? Our pilots, our mission, our citizens, and our country desire better than 30+ year old fighters to defend the nation.

Given the legacy of this program what will happen to the F-35 when it runs into cost and technical problems – Congress will reduce the airframe numbers and increase the price per unit. Then complain about the costs and reduce the fleet size, and increase the per unit buy. Just the same as we have today. But at that time the F-22 production line will not be able to be restarted.

Look at the B-2 program. Think of what we could do with 40 or 60 B-2 bombers instead of the 19 we have today. The threat itself makes our adversaries think twice. Again cost, not the mission was the driver. Now we have 50+ old B-52s flying to supplement the B-2 fleet in delivering our strategic and theater missions.

Our story begins in 1981 with a requirement for the ATF. Fast forward to 1991 ten years later, the YF-22 announced as the winner and initial service requirement of 648 airframes, cost $86.6B. Two years later, 1993, our requirement is reduced to 442 airframes, cost $71.6B. 1996, a third restructuring of the program and cost adjustments occurred. 1997, our requirement is 438airframes reduced to 339. Our price for the 339 airframes is now $40B. 2000, Congress mandated additional testing that delayed LRIP and increased costs. 2001, a Congressional cap of $37.6B for 333 airframes was imposed. 2005, F-22 IOC is achieved. 2009, we now have a requirement for 187 airframes, while we are eliminating 200+ legacy F-15 and F-16 fighters.

History and hind-sight are amazing. Hopefully, we can learn lessons of stopping a production line too soon from the B-2 program? May be not? The industrial capabilities and flexibility are not what they were 28 or 10 years ago in restarting a production line. Now we are at a crossroads with maintaining an existing production line and an industrial capability.

We need to work Congress, the contractor and the DOD budget with Secretary Gates to maintain the F-22 production line until F-35s are produced in such numbers to fulfill the existing and future combat requirements. Discussion of overseas sales should be allowed to increase our interoperatability with our allies, strengthen their deterrent capability to defend themselves, and maintain an option for future fighter production.

Congress has another round prior to the final resolution between the House and the Senate. If you believe we should maintain our airborne deterrence - then contact your representatives. I would like a strong deterrence rather than a $1 Trillion+ health care overhaul.

Paul Krey
Springfield, KY

Norm on Aviation said...

Norm on Aviation said…

I don’t believe buying more F-22s beyond the current 187 that were previously authorized is justified for many reasons, some which I will briefly state. I strongly support Secretary of Defense Robert Gates position to stop F-22A orders at 187. I must also point out that President Bush and Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also felt 187 F-22As were sufficient for the nation’s defense and offensive needs. Colonels Beery, Casoguay and Chilstom have said this very well on this site also. I also strongly believe the F-22A Raptor is and will be for next 20 years the world’s best air-to-air fighter although the F-35A with its 360 degree AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System avionics and helmet missile systems just may be better than the F-22A going forward. It allows for firing air-to-air missiles even to the rear of the F-35A and according to Northrop Grumman instead of the aircraft having to slog it out in a high G “turning battle”, the F-35 simply exits the fight and lets the missile do the maneuvering. (Ref: Air Force Magazine, July 2009, page 26).

The 180-186 (accounts for few losses due to accidents which provide 100 or so actually combat ready at any given time) F-22s that the USAF will have going forward, F-15E/F, F-16 and Navy/Marine F-18 E/F Super Hornets which also have significant air-to-air and air-ground and will continue for some years to come, be able to support the F-22 with the air-to-air role as well as air-to-ground combat roles. The Navy also “continuously forward deploys” their F/A-18s to hot spots such as Taiwan Straights, Japan Sea, the Persian Gulf and Straights of Hormuz Also, depending on the circumstances, NATO nations may chip-in a few of their high performance air-to-air fighters if needed. I don’t see the Air Force ever using the F-22 in ground support roles except, due principally to SAM threats, in the very earliest stages of a new conflict and on limited targets. We also must not forget the Air Force wants to buy a whopping 1,763 5th generation radar stealth F-35s. The Navy and Marines are also buying C and B models which also have good air-to air/air-to-ground radar stealth capabilities. Several of our strong traditional foreign allies are also buying F-35s.

In my view, Russia and China are the only potential adversaries with pending 5th generation fighter programs and they appear to be small in numbers. North Korea and Iran will not soon if ever, have any 5th generation fighters. Their present 3rd and 4th generation fighters are very few in number and in pathetic condition with under-trained pilots. None of these countries will attack US soil with fighters or bombers at the onset of a war. Russia and China would certainly use their significant ICBMs and SLBM’s for first and second strikes against US soil. North Korea and Iran are obviously gearing up their offensive strike power in the same way by developing nuclear weapons to be put on target not by fighters or bombers but by ballistic missiles. NGOs, such as Al-Qaida and the Taliban don’t have nor they are planning to have any military fighters or bombers in their arsenals. Al Qaida, as they demonstrated were very successful on September 11, 2001, in the very deadly and costly air attacks on New York City and the Pentagon near Washington DC, using hi-jacked civilian airliners for their air power. The US doesn’t need stealth F-22s to shoot down airliners over US soil. Harsh words for sure, but this is reality and history says this type of threat is still remotely possible.

I urge our Air Force leaders and their organizational support groups like the AFA, Mitchell Institute, etc. to seriously re-think their recent strategies and to recommend new F-22A force counts based on current actual data, expected battle strategies and intelligence to the Sec of Defense, the President and Commander-in- Chief and Congress going forward.