F-22 program’s demise begs question: Will we ever learn
April 29, 2012 12:00 AM | 4632 views | 17 17 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WHAT’S NOW the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta has built many significant airplanes that carved a place in the annals of aviation history, such as the B-29 Superfortress bomber, the C-130 Hercules, C-141 StarLifter and C-5 Galaxy cargo planes and the P-3 Orion sub hunter, to name just a few. And the coming week will see the delivery and departure of the final copy of another aircraft that has had huge importance to the plant, to this community and to the country: the F-22 Raptor fighter jet.

The Raptor is, quite simply, the most capable, most advanced and most deadly fighter jet ever built. It commands the skies and has the ability to knock other fighters out of the sky before they have even crossed the horizon, i.e., before they even realize the Raptors are there. It is a plane designed to sweep the skies of enemy aircraft and thereby make the battlefield a safer place for the infantry far below.

Unfortunately, the Raptor’s high cost made it a fat target for the Obama administration and many in Congress. And they have pulled the plug on the program after only 195 of the initially expected 1,300 copies were manufactured. The end of the Cold War meant, for many in Washington, that there was no need for such a plane, so they steadily began whittling away at the program year after year. And because so much of the plane’s built-in cost was accrued on the front end during the R&D phase, that meant that the average cost of each plane rose each time the overall number to be purchased was cut.

The final F-22 rolled out of the plant last December, and will be “delivered” to the Air Force in a ceremony at the plant on Tuesday. It then will be deployed to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska, joining an F-22 squadron.

The F-22 program created thousands of well-paying jobs and put food on plenty of local tables for two decades. It also drew to Marietta hundreds of highly educated and superbly skilled engineers and technicians, and gave Lockheed an impetus to spend millions of dollars upgrading the vintage-World War II plant. Those upgrades, and the sterling performance by all involved in the F-22, were a big reason that Lockheed chose the plant to help build portions of its newest fighter, the F-35 Lightning II.

Raptors will still be seen overhead occasionally as they are returned to the plant for upgrades and repairs. But the F-22 line has been shut down and packed away.

***
IT’S IRONIC — and short-sighted in the extreme — for the U.S. to be closing the door on construction of the world’s best fighter jet at a time when the Chinese and Russians have each produced jets that look just like the Raptor and which likely are almost as capable. But that’s part and parcel of a White House hell-bent on downsizing our stock of nuclear weapons to next to nothing. One hopes that the next “big” war does not find us with a military as ill-equipped and undersized as the one with which we were forced to go to war in 1941. We paid in brave men’s blood in the early 1940s for the penny-pinching politics of the 1930s.

Will we ever learn from our mistakes?

Comments
(17)
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namtah
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May 06, 2012
It's funny how the left wing comes down so hard on the one thing the federal government is actually, constitutionally, charged to do. Not that I'm begging the question or anything like that...And so many defense experts in the readership. I'm impressed. I bet there's lots of foreign policy experts out there too that would love for the whole middle east to go nuclear. Oh, and North Korea too...It is actually my hope that these F-22s are NEVER used in combat. Ever heard of something called a deterrent? Silly liberals!
Your English Teacher
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April 30, 2012
Please stop misusing "begs the question" and expect to be treated like a real news source. If you mean "leads to the question" then write that or some variation instead.
what the
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April 30, 2012
There's not much possibility that the little company at the bottom of the hill (MDJ) will ever be critical of the big company at the top of the hill (Lockheed-Martin). As George Bush Sr. would say "wouldn't be prudent". It's true Republicans have never seen a war or a defense program they didn't like. How exactly would you propose to pay for these expensive planes and cut taxes for the job creators at the same time? Here's an idea, take it out of the hides of teachers, public employees and the poor.
otter357
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April 30, 2012
The Daily Beast reported yesterday that the pentagon has 19,000 drones under its control.

A drone can out-perfom a manned aircraft.

The F-22 is the most capable, most advanced, most deadly MANNED fighter jet ever produced.

Indeed it is designed to clear the skies of enemy aircraft, but unmanned machines can do that also. Cheaper, better.

Raptor1
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June 06, 2012
Really, Otter??? Can you give me the name of a SINGLE drone which can take on enemy fighters?... or actively hunt down SAMs like the S-300?... while cruising through airspace at Mach 1.5 and >50,000 feet?

That's because there are NONE! And THAT's because there's a HUGE difference between 1) sending our 200mph prop-drones with their cameras to fire a missile at a couple of terrorists in a cafe with no air force at all and 2) finding, identifying, and successfully engaging a SAM site with a 4000 mph SAM that can engage from 100 miles, or a maneuvering fighter which can actually fire back!

People think our drones have disproven the value of a man in the cockpit - all they've proven so far is that undefended, immobile targets with no defense can be killed by an unmanned drone which, by the way, are also expensive to maintain and, as we've seen in Iraq, Afghan, and Iran, are as good as meat when they experience a "lost signal", jamming, hacking, slight battle damage, etc.
Great Focus
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April 29, 2012
Our mistake was stockpiling killing machines to begin with. We need to focus on peace, not killing.
CoffeeTime
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April 30, 2012
Kum-ba-ya, to you, Great Focus.

The world's preeminent body on peace and all things good for humanity, a.k.a the United Nations, certainly has done a great job of peace management, eh?

Look. You can scream for peace all you want, but there will always be a certain number of malcontents who want power at all cost, not to mention all of "your stuff". Although the concept may be foreign to you, these people have absolutely no interest in peace...and you cannot convince them peace is the right thing. The UN has tried for over 60 years, and there are way more wars going on around the world now than there were when they got started. Then there was Wilson's League of Nations. Yeah, that worked too.
ChuckP66ness
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September 01, 2012
The ignorance in your single sentence post is mind-blowing! First, you would be speaking German or Russian right now if it were not for our dominance militarily. Second, you have "peace through strength." Why bother? Your ignorance is as deep as the Mariana Trench.
Timus
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April 29, 2012
I totally expected this article to be about Lockheed overcharging the taxpayers for these jets to the tune of nearly $100 million a piece. But no such luck. Partisanship wins out in favor of calling a spade a spade. Lockheed nearly tripled the price they bid for building these planes!! I know F-35 aren't nearly as capable as the F-22 in dogfights but they can do as good a job or better in terms of everything else: fuel, payload, air to ground combat(which our last two wars involved). And the best part of all. We can buy three F-35 for the price of one Raptor. This is significant since the raptors were not supposed to cost that much to begin with!!
wait a second
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April 29, 2012
You lay the early cancellation of the f-22 at president obama's feet?

Please let me remind this (chronically biased) editorial board that the seeds of this were sewn in 2008 (the Bush administration)...and I quote from GW Bush's own Secretary of Defense Robert Gates...."The reality is we are fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater. So it is principally for use against a near peer in a conflict, and I think we all know who that is," Gates said. "And looking at what I regard as the level of risk of conflict with one of those near peers over the next four or five years until the Joint Strike Fighter comes along, I think that something along the lines of 183 is a reasonable buy."
Maatf
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April 29, 2012
Thank you for setting the record straight on that. I want to repeat one of the most important things you said: "...the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater" of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the ones we have been fighting for the past 10 years. Not one.

NOT. ONE.
ahood50
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April 30, 2012
You are actually incorrect. Secretary Gates said this in early April 2009 AFTER President Obama took office. As you should remember, Obama retained Gates as SoD.
correction ahood
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May 01, 2012
Mr Ahood50,

Quote above from "wait a second" was from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates during February 2008 (which was during the Bush administration).

I guess this is a bit difficult to swallow since it seems the right wing in this country have been quite busy re-writing 2008's history and tended to ascribe all sorts of stuff that went on during the final year of the Bush administration to Obama -- steep job losses driving unemployment from 5% to 8.9%, bailing out AIG, bailing out GM, stuffing money down the major banks' throats whether they thought they needed it or no, etc, etc, etc.
ChuckP66ness
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September 01, 2012
The F-22 has performed utterly astoundingly in war games against our previous best fighter, the F-15. One Raptor can take out five enemies in a single combat w/o them ever seeing them. Gates is a hack, but you probably know that.
needed editorial
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April 29, 2012
Thank you for the great editorial. I have felt for a long time that Obama's rush to weaken the military should be regarded as the major problem, not just the economy. I can still remember the perils we faced at the beginning of WW II due to being so weak militarily and by apparently ignoring all the warning signs of a strengthening Hitler and a rising Japan. I am terrified to think what damage Obama will do if he gets in for another four years. What has happened to our checks and balances?
Joe Schmoe
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April 30, 2012
Obama budgeted for two (2) F-22s his first year in office. Bush budgeted for zero (0) in all eight years. In 2001 Rumsfeld wanted to end production at 50 but a bipartisan push quieted him, so Bush and Co simply applied attrition... $0.00 every year forward. Blaming Obama is pathetic.
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