Wednesday, July 22, 2009
F-22 Program crashes and burns
Yesterday the Obama administration significantly undercut our strength by killing production of the Air Force’s best fighter: the F-22. For Obama, the victory was purely symbolic. While he sends our nation spiraling into trillions of new debt, his $1.75 billion in savings by cutting the F-22 amounts to a third of one percent of the overall 2010 defense budget. So if killing the F-22 was not about savings, what was the motivation? The New York Times reports: “Senate aides said that some Democrats who otherwise might have voted for more planes sided with the President out of concern that a loss could have hurt him in the fight for health care reform.”
So at what cost to our national security did Obama trade political momentum for his domestic initiatives? Russia is expanding its fighter forces more than at any other time since the end of the Cold War. The Russians plan to field 300 Su-Fullback strike aircraft by 2022 and an additional 300 Sukhoi Pak fifth-generation fighters. Meanwhile, China has ordered an estimated 76 Su-30MKK Flanker-Gs and can produce an additional 250 under license, including at least 100 “knock-down kits” to be assembled in China. If China modernizes its 171 Su-27SK/UBs to the Su-27SKM standard and assembles another 105 Su-27SKMs under license, it will have roughly 626 multi-role fighters available for air superiority missions. This would place China in the same league as the U.S., which has 522 F-15A/B/C/Ds, 217 F-15Es, and a planned end strength of 186 F-22s.
This, in addition to unilateral nuclear weapons reductions and missile defense adds up to trouble for this country's defense.