Thursday, May 3, 2012

Note from AFA President -- F-22

Last night ABC news did a piece on the F-22 … and I am told 60 minutes also plans to do one.  Simply put – from my perspective – the piece was a hatchet job.  ABC had no one … repeat no one … who could provide balance – the other side of the issue. 
One of AFA’s Airpower Advocates was to give a talk to a civic group this morning … and asked me what he should say about the issue.  His specific questions were: 
What are the facts to the claims of: $500M airplane; never flown in combat; designed for a Soviet fighter that doesn’t exist; an O2 system that kills pilots and after groundings could not be fixed?
I responded: 
[Name deleted], here is what I say about it.
  • The flyaway cost for the last block of F-22s was $142M each.   
  • Because DoD terminated the program before 752 were delivered, the R&D costs were amortized over a smaller number of A/C.  Much like the B-2
    • There’s a lesson here:  we have to buy aircraft – especially fighters – in quantity
      • Government gets a better price – quantity discount  and for multi-year procurement saves even more …
      • Quality of the manufacturing process improves as one goes down the learning curve
      • The last block of F-22s came off the production line without any defects … and on time and budget
      • Nation gets the assets it needs to defend the US
      • Our daughters and sons fly modern equipment – not 50 year old planes that are geriatric
  • Part of the F-22 R&D costs rolled into the F-35 program … so they were needed in any event
  • The F-22 has not flown in combat … despite requests from theater commanders for them
    • The reason for this is simple – they were not needed
    • The F-22 IOC’d (Initial Operational Capability) in 2005 – well after we had attained air superiority in Iraq and Afghanistan
    • There is evidence that Sec Gates did not approve commander requests for the aircraft so he could implement his cancellation order and not be overturned by Congress
  • The F-22 is needed for any combat zone where there are modern air defenses. 
    • This includes places such as PRC, Iran, RU, Taiwan
    • The US considered creating a no-fly zone over the country of Georgia when the Russians attacked Georgia … and the only airplane that could have survived was the F-22 … due to the Russians deploying modern SAMs to their border
    • If the US had used F-22s for Libya, they could have saved many billions of dollars of Tomahawks … as the aircraft could have roamed the battlefield with impunity and plinked key targets with JDAMs.
    • Both the Russians and the Chinese are building 5th generation fighters
      • The Russians have already agreed to sell theirs to India
      • China has indicated it will sell theirs
      • We may not fight either country … but we will fight their “stuff”
  • Never in the history of modern warfare has one side won in combat without air superiority.  It is like Oxygen – you need it and you won’t miss it until you don’t have it. 
  • The Oxygen system is a problem [note the slick transition from the point above] … and the AF has put its brightest minds on fixing it … but they don’t yet know what the problem is
    • The Air Force says it was not the cause of the (F-22) accident in Alaska …
    • It is the same system that is on the Navy’s F-18
      • The F-18 has had more than 20 incidents with the system … and doesn’t know why either
      • One has to wonder why the public (and ABC) is not focusing on the safety of F-18s …
      • The Navy joined the AF in trying to determine how to fix the system
    • The AF has made significant changes to warn the pilots of problems – filters, warning lights, supplement O2, etc.
      • But … these are just that … supplemental … and don’t fix the problem
      • The AF hopes to know by late summer what the actual cause is
I would only add one more point … Senator McCain appeared on ABC, making some deprecating remarks about the aircraft.  The exchange went like this:
“(Brian) ROSS: Senator John McCain, a former combat pilot himself, says the plane was designed to fight a next-generation Soviet jet that was never built, and has little use now against the enemies America is fighting.
(Senator) MCCAIN: There’s no purpose unless you believe that al Qaeda is going to have a fleet of aircraft.”
The good Senator (who I believe knows better) implies we should only build the force to fight Al Qaida. That is shortsighted on many levels … planning to fight the last war; not preparing for the future; etc., etc. Taken to the extreme, it would imply we need a much smaller Navy – which I think is also shortsighted.
For your consideration. 

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association
"The only thing more expensive than a first-rate Air Force is … a second-rate Air Force."  --  Senate staff member


Adolphus H. Bledsoe Jr. said...

General Dunn,
I have been retired from the Air Force since 1985, so am not privy to the latest thinking in aircraft systems design, but I have difficulty seeing the logic in abandoning proven liquid oxygen systems for the on-board oxygen generators used by the F-22 and F-18. Why? Any ideas?
Adolphus H. Bledsoe Jr.
Col, USAF, Retired

Anonymous said...

These criticisms of the F-22 almost mirror those of the B-1 20 years ago. Cost, use in combat, oxygen system, numbers, lack of need. Look at how well it's doing in combat now.

As to why OBOGS vs LOX = weight.

Anonymous said...

Good comments. As to McCain, he's blatantly anti-AF; his treatment of Gen Speedy Martin years ago is but an example

doc said...

F-22 was built to defeat advanced aircraft, and to defeat the rest of the world's increasingly more capable 4th generation aircraft that were putting F-15, F-16, and F-18s at risk. Sen McCain has repeatedly shown his anti-AF bias, and wasn't that great a pilot himself.

bill said...

Sen McCain is right on, the us needs 3 fa18 hornets instead of one f22. The air force can not guide itself. Case in point the c27. What a sad story that is. Then we can go to the global hawk, another sad story . The only service in worst shape is the navy that can not count ships.

Anonymous said...

The United States must achieve air dominance in future wars to protect our national interest.
F-22 along with F-35 are the right systems. Freedom is not free.