FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Gates, Congress and the F-22

Congress is busying itself trying to overturn Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s decision to stop producing the F-22 fighter. But President Barack Obama has threatened to veto a spending bill for the entire Defense Department if it contains a single F-22 over the 187 now authorized.

Gates has said that, without a doubt, Obama should veto a bill that includes additional F-22s. The fact that there are doubts demonstrates the mess our defenses are in.

The House committee wants to make a down payment on 12 more F-22s in 2011; the Senate committee wants seven more in 2010.

The House passed its version of the bill on June 25 by a vote of 389-22. So Obama and Gates have a long way to go to show that they have the 145 or so votes they would need to sustain a veto.

Gates and Obama’s case against the F-22 is reasonable but needs to be more comprehensive.

Gates has argued that not a single F-22 has flown in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But there simply are no enemy air forces there.

Also, the F-22 is outrageously expensive. The 187 now authorized are costing the nation more than $65 billion, almost $350 million for each one.

More important, but so far unaddressed, is whether the F-22 is even a good fighter. Actually, it is a gigantic disappointment.

Its boosters advertise the F-22 as a technological wonder – which it isn’t.

Its “stealth” characteristic is greatly exaggerated. And, while the F-22 is less detectable by some radar at certain angles, it is easily detectable to many types of radar in the world, including early Russian and Chinese models. Just ask the pilots of the two stealthy F-117 bombers that were put out of action by Serbs in the 1999 Kosovo air war using antiquated radar systems.

Worse, the F-22 depends on its radar and long-range, radar-guided missiles. Such “beyond visual range” radar-based air warfare has failed time and time again in war.

There are two problems. First, even the low probability of intercept radar in the F-22 is vulnerable to detection by enemies, especially with the proliferation of spread-spectrum technology in cell phones and laptops. The radar not only signals the F-22’s presence to enemies but also acts as a beacon for their radar-homing missiles. While both the Russians and the Chinese specialize in such missiles, our Air Force, in its exercises, insists that such capabilities do not exist.

Second, its aerodynamic performance, short-range missiles and guns are nothing special, which I observed at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada when an F-16 “shot down” an F-22 in exercises.

A vote in Congress for more F-22s is a vote to decay our pilots’ skills, shrink our Air Force at increasing cost and reward Congress’s lust for pork. Congress’s new defense bill should, indeed, be vetoed if a single F-22 is added. Pro-defense members of Congress will support that move.

WINSLOW T. WHEELER spent 31 years working on Capitol Hill with senators from both political parties and the Government Accountability Office, specializing in national security affairs. Currently, he directs the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information in Washington. He is author of The Wastrels of Defense and the editor of a new anthology: ‘America’s Defense Meltdown: Pentagon Reform for President Obama and the New Congress’.

 

 

More articles by:

Winslow T. Wheeler is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight.  He spent 31 years working for the Government Accountability Office and both Republican and Democratic Senators on national security issues.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail