The F-22 is Not an Earmark
In March 8’s “Pentagon’s Unwanted Projects in Earmarks Democrats Press Backyard Spending,” Washington Post staff writers R. Jeffrey Smith and Ellen Nakashima’s incorrectly argue Congressional earmarks are behind the procurement of the Pentagon’s most advanced weapons systems.
Regarding the F-22 fighter aircraft, the article quotes a senior defense official stating “the plane has not been used in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars.” This criticism makes no sense. The first unit of F-22s was not even declared operational until December 2007. Further, in 2008 the Air Force requested to deploy the F-22 to Iraq and the Department of Defense denied the request. Recently, it was reported that the Air Force Chief of Staff intends to once again request authority to deploy the aircraft to the theater.
Likewise the unnamed official is quoted as saying “Although the F-22 is built as an air-superiority fighter, the U.S. military has not faced a serious dogfight since the Vietnam war.” The rationale for pursuing the F-22 after the Cold War is to keep the record in tact. Fielding of the F-22 is to ensure the United States maintains an overmatching edge in air combat against the latest generation of fighter aircraft being fielded around the world. The article also does not mention that the F-22 is necessary for penetrating advanced air defense such as those including the S-300 anti-aircraft missile.
Additionally, the article implies that the Defense Department does not want to purchase additional F-22s. In fact, the department’s stated position is more equivocal. In Congressional testimony in February 2008, it was reported Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged, “My objective is to give the next [Obama] administration an option.” On February 8, 2009, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell stated “The decision about how many, if any, additional [F-22] planes we wish to acquire will be made in the context of the FY ‘10 budget