January 9, 2011 (by Eric L. Palmer) - The top leadership in the U.S. Department of Defense is out of their depth when considering what air domination capability is good to defend America.
F-22A Raptors with the 94th FS out of Langley AFB, fly in 10 ship aircraft formation on August 17th, 2007, in celebration of the squadron's 90th Birthday. The 94th FS is the second continuously-active fighter squadron in the United States. Formed on Aug. 20, 1917, at Kelly Field, Texas, it is the first all-American squadron to fly a patrol in France during World War I. [USAF photo by SSgt. Samuel Rogers]
The F-35, which Mr. Gates has gambled our future on is neither affordable, sustainable, lethal or survivable. And; it was always meant to have the F-22 do the real work of air domination against big threats.
Why is this important? America needs the guarantee of air domination. America needs the deterrence of air domination. America needs real air power leaders. We are now on a sure path to throwing this all away. And with that; goes victory in future conflicts.
For example, threats in the Pacific Rim will only grow in the coming years. These kind of threats cannot be deterred by fragile pilotless drones powered by uprated snowmobile engines.
Today, we can probably put 70 combat capable F-22s against a contingency. This will grow to around 110-120 in the future. This is not enough for the needs of national security. Also, sometime in the 2020's we will start retiring F-22's. Then what?
Once the F-22 production line closes down, that is it. Oh, there are those that claim that the DOD
is documenting the production line in order to put it back together when needed. Great, too bad they don't know how to start up a near dead supply chain spread across the whole nation that builds critical components for this jet. The "we can restart F-22 production at a later date" theory has another critical flaw. Who is going to build it? You cannot hope to find all of that tribal knowledge on today's production line and in the supply chain that have actual working experience. The people with these critical skills will have gone on to something else.
The new sitting Congress has to put F-22 production into the next Defense budget as a form of national interest toward maintaining our future air domination needs.
Too expensive? How expensive is losing a war? How expensive is losing access to a combat theater? How expensive is losing a world leadership position because nations that sit on the fence for a critical decision over a future conflict see America as a paper tiger?
How do we pay for it? Easy. Kill other defense programs that bring no value to the security of the nation. It is hard to take Mr. Gates seriously when he lets a fraud like the Littoral Combat Ship program exist.
To those that say this cannot be done, I say; then prepare to lose a war. The pet air power theories of Mr. Gates and friends are wrong. It is time for Congress to realize this and challenge both him, his replacement and this administration.
None of this is about maintaining a military pilots union so they can have the most expensive and pretty toys. It is about air power being a critical tool that allows our soldiers, sailors, marines and airman win any war we task them to do. America's air power roadmap is in a shambles. Without a plan to repair it, future victory will be unattainable.