September 1, 2009  

Congressional sense

To Congress, for ultimately voting to kill funds that would have extended the F-22 fighter production line. It was a long, tough fight, but eventually the Senate Armed Services Committee and, more remarkably, the House Appropriations Committee, relinquished their entrenched positions. It’s immaterial whether the reversal was prompted by President Barack Obama’s threat to veto a bill that included F-22 funding or by the strenuous Pentagon-White House lobbying efforts. This was a step forward for common sense. Lockheed Martin had backed off lobbying for the F-22 (likely to save the F-35); the Air Force’s senior leadership and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had spoken against buying more F-22s (likely for the same reason). The Defense secretary was not asking to kill the F-22 program, merely to end it at the 183 planes agreed to back in 2005 (and to which four more aircraft were added in the fiscal year 2009 supplemental.) That’s sufficient for the “niche, silver-bullet solution” that Robert Gates rightly describes as the F-22’s role.