Printed from America's Survival, Inc. - http://www.usasurival.org/
Save the F-22|
By Clifford Kincaid*
In what could be ominous days to come for our nation’s defense, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has declared his intention to have a total procurement of just 187 of the most advanced air superiority fighter in the U.S. inventory, the F-22 Raptor.
The ultimate decision on the fate of the F-22, however, lies with Congress.
The plane is currently the only known 5th generation fighter in service in the world, with its export to other countries banned by federal law.
This recent news about the F-22 comes at a time when Aviation International Online reports that test flights will begin soon for Russia’s in-development 5th generation fighter, currently referred to as the T-50.
Sukhoi, the famed Russian aircraft manufacturer and designer known for building the SU-37 fighter among others, is producing what Sukhoi has for now designated the T-50. The CEO of Sukhoi, Mikhail Pogosyan, states, “Let’s wait until next year, perhaps at the Farnborough air show, to learn more about our 5th generation fighter.” 1
Fifth generation fighters are those introduced in 2005 onward, with the first being the F-22. Fifth generation design characteristics can vary, but generally include advanced avionics and stealth designs, such as radar absorbent materials and internal weapons bays, among others.
General John Corley, head of the Air Combat Command, recently spoke out strongly against the proposed plan to end production of the F-22. In a letter to Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss, he wrote, “In my opinion, a fleet of 187 F-22’s puts execution of our current military national strategy at high risk in the near- to mid-term.” 2
The general is not the only one against the proposed plan, but has been the most senior military official to date to publicly criticize Gates’ plan.
Some have argued that a reduced fleet of F-22’s is feasible, given the military’s other 5th generation fighter in development, the F-35 Lightning. This is debatable considering what Major General Richard Lewis, executive officer for the F-22 program, said concerning the F-35.
He stated in a 2006 article that, “The problem with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in establishing air dominance is that you have to buy two or three to replace the F-22, because it only has half the weapons load, and it doesn't have the speed. You can't replace (the F-22) one-for-one with an F-35 or any other legacy fighter such as the F-15E.” 3
Perhaps nothing else better illustrates the capabilities of the F-22 than the statistics. In Operation Northern Edge, a joint training operation conducted in Alaska in 2006, not a single F-22 was shot down in simulated exercises. The plane went on to achieve a stunning 108-0 kill ratio. 3
Furthermore, the value of the F-22 in dealing with surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) cannot be undervalued. General Lewis notes that neither the F-15 nor the F-16 is capable of dealing with both SAM installations and other fighters at the same time. The F-22 does, however, have this capability. 3
An F-22 demonstration can be seen in this YouTube video.
*Clifford Kincaid is an intern with America’s Survival, Inc.