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The F-22 in Danger
US government cuts F-22 budget
Beom-seok Sohn (gmitil10)     Print Article 
Published 2009-08-06 11:57 (KST)   
The F-22 fighter jet has been a source of much controversy in recent months. With a hefty price tag of US$137.5 million per unit, (1) the program has been lambasted by critics as an example of wasteful spending. Such criticisms seem to have persuaded lawmakers, who have recently voted to cap the aircraft's production at 187 jets. The majority of the 187 jets have already been delivered.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the $636.6 billion defense spending bill that would cap the manufacture of the aircraft. (2)

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The measure has the staunch backing of both President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. President Obama had threatened to veto any measure including additional funding for the F-22 fighter jet. However, the President's veto threats may not have been the deciding factor, seeing that the bill still contains funding for a new fleet of Presidential helicopters (a provision that Obama has threatened to veto as well).

Defense Secretary Roberts, in turn, has cited the need to reallocate the funds "to improve capabilities in areas where America is under invested and potentially vulnerable."(3) In other words, Roberts argued that the money spent on the F-22 could be better used for programs that are more suitable for the country's changing military needs.

So was the decision to cut spending for the F-22 program the correct decision? Lawmakers like Senator John Cornyn of Texas argue that the program is needed to save thousands of jobs, mostly in North Texas. It is also true that as a fifth-generation stealth fighter, the F-22 is arguably the most advanced fighter jet in the world today. It is one of the many factors that seem to give the American military an edge over its competitors.

Regardless, many others, including Defense Secretary Roberts argue that "[the US] must break the old habit of adding layer upon layer of cost, complexity and delay to systems that are so expensive and so elaborate that only a small number can be built and that are then usable only in a narrow range of low-probability scenarios."(4)

Proponents of this notion maintain that weapons like the F-22 fighter jet were launched in the Cold-War Era when the biggest threat against the US was the Soviet Union, not terrorism. As such, they argue that more versatile weapons like the new F-35 fighter jets are more valuable to the American arsenal than the F-22. In fact, the Pentagon (including Defense Secretary Roberts) and many lawmakers are pushing for additional funding for the F-35.

Regardless of whether Congress's decision to cut funding for the F-22 program was a wise decision or not, it is evident that the program is in danger of further cuts.
Footnotes:

1. "FY 2009 Budget Estimates". p. 1?13. United States Air Force. February 2008. Retrieved: 30 July 2009.

2. "The House vote gives nod to Obama administration push for reform, but more conflict ahead on other funding the House bill left untouched." Orlando news, information, weather, hurricane coverage, sports, entertainment, restaurants, real estate, jobs, business, classifieds - OrlandoSentinel.com. Web. 01 Aug. 2009. .

3. "Gates warns against excess with F-22s - Los Angeles Times." Los Angeles Times - News from Los Angeles, California and the World. Web. 01 Aug. 2009. .

4. "Editorial: Gates pushes Congress to right place in killing F-22 | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Opinion: Editorials." Dallas News, Sports, Weather and Traffic from The Dallas Morning News. Web. 01 Aug. 2009. .
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Beom-seok Sohn

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