Air Force plans to sell F-22As to allies

Anything goes, as long as it is about the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
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Unread post18 Feb 2006, 05:19

Air Force plans to sell F-22As to allies

InsideDefense.com NewsStand | John T. Bennett | February 17, 2006

Momentum is building within the Air Force to sell the service's prized F-22A Raptor -- which is loaded with super-secret systems -- to trusted U.S. allies, with Japan viewed as the most likely buyer, service and industry officials tell Inside the Air Force.

A Lockheed Martin official heavily involved in the Raptor program told ITAF Feb. 14 that a proposal to alter course and sell the Raptor to Japan is working its way through the Air Force. Lockheed is leading development and production work on the service's newest fighter.

“Right now, [the proposal] is at the three- or four-star level” within the Air Force, the Lockheed official said. “It's not at the highest levels yet . . . to the people who really count -- but it's getting there.”

Several service officials, including a key four-star command chief, that have spoken with ITAF also have confirmed that the notion of selling a yet-undetermined number of Raptors to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) is indeed picking up steam among blue-suited military and civilian decision-makers.

Air Combat Command chief Gen. Ronald Keys told ITAF Feb. 2 after his remarks at a conference in Lake Buena Vista, FL, that service officials are debating the notion of putting the F-22A on the international market. Several service officials, who all requested anonymity, have since said the proposal is gaining strength and working its way through the Air Force's cumbersome bureaucracy.

The revived proposal comes as Lockheed has seen the Air Force dramatically scale back its F-22A program. The service initially intended to purchase 381 fighters, but has since scaled that figure back to just over 180. Overseas sales would help the defense giant swell its shrinking F-22A bottom line.

Several industry officials employed by companies partnering with Lockheed on the multibillion-dollar fighter program contacted by ITAF over the past two weeks also confirmed the notion is picking up steam within the air service.

“I'd say there is definitely a renewed interest to develop an international variant” of the F-22A, a Boeing official told ITAF Feb. 2 at the same Florida conference. Boeing is under contract to develop several Raptor components, including its wings, aft-fuselage and avionics systems, according to a company fact sheet. Boeing also is responsible for 70 percent of the F-22A's mission software as well as other components, the fact sheet states.

Defense officials and military analysts, including Loren Thompson of the Washington-based Lexington Institute, contacted this week all agreed Japan is atop what appears at first glance to be a short list of possible Raptor suitors.

Why would there be so few nations in line to buy what is touted by U.S. officials as the most capable fighter jet in history? Sources pointed to several reasons.

First, a list of the Pentagon's most trusted partners already are heavily invested in the Joint Strike Fighter program, having sunk millions into development work and are preparing to spend a large amount of their respective defense budgets on their own F-35 fleets. And second, China and an increasingly stubborn Russia are pegged by strategic military and political thinkers as the only two nations capable of mounting an air-to-air threat against the American military and its allies. Several analysts said that would mean having an extra squadron or two of the F-22As permanently “bedded down” in the region makes strategic sense for the Pentagon.

A Japanese defense official said Feb. 14 that the Asian nation is very interested in purchasing the F-22A as a replacement for its F-4 aircraft, and confirmed the JASDF has contacted both Raptor-maker Lockheed Martin and the Air Force about buying the fighter.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force currently has four fighter jet models in its fleet -- F-15s, F-4 interceptors, F-2s and F-1s. The JASDF introduced the F-4s in 1973 and has indicated it will begin retiring them some time next decade.

At press time (Feb. 16), the Air Force had not responded to several requests for comment submitted by a reporter over the past two weeks.

The controversial proposal would need the approval of top officials at the Defense and State departments as well as on Capitol Hill. A collective decision to export the fighter would require a change of mind from the Pentagon, Foggy Bottom and Capitol Hill.

Each Washington entity has for years resisted exporting the Raptor -- even to the coziest of U.S. allies -- based on fears some of the F-22A's most-advanced systems could “migrate” to potential adversaries, especially China. The Asian giant is viewed by many Pentagon officials and military scholars as the most likely nation that could take on the U.S. military in a 20th century-style conventional war.

Air Force officials and military analysts said before the U.S. would agree to export the Raptor to Japan, officials there would have to agree to stipulations that F-22A technologies would not be resold to other nations.

“It's hard to envision the F-22A with its current capabilities being exported, even to our closest allies. Its capabilities would almost certainly have to be ‘watered down' for export,” according to Christopher Bolkcom, an analyst at the Congressional Research Service in Washington.

“Would such an aircraft be attractive to foreign countries? Probably. Would it be priced affordably? That is more difficult to predict,” Bolkcom told ITAF Feb. 14. “Technology transfer will likely be a critical issue” that U.S. policy-makers would have to iron out, he added.

Officials could potentially use another high-profile fighter program as a guide, if they opt to move forward with a plan to put the F-22A on the market, the CRS analyst said. “If the JSF program is able to resolve its technology transfer issues, DOD may have a model -- or at least a precedent -- for the F-22A to follow,” Bolkcom concluded.

Though the F-22A is one of the Pentagon's most-valued -- and most costly -- weapon programs, existing laws place the State Department in charge of approving any sales of U.S. defense systems to other nations, defense officials and analysts were quick to point out this week.

To that end, Lockheed, according to the company official, is merely “waiting for the Air Force and State Department to tell us what to do.”

Meanwhile, the Japanese defense official declined to disclose the list of requirements the JASDF would slap on its potential F-22A fleet. The Lockheed official, however, noted the kinds of missions the self-defense minded Japanese air force would assign its Raptors would differ from the tasks that have been prescribed for U.S. F-22A squadrons.

Because a potential Japanese Raptor force would be focused on patrolling its native skies -- as opposed to waging combat operations in far-away and hostile territories like the U.S. models -- the JASDF could well opt to leave many of the air-to-ground capability upgrades planned for future U.S. models off their fleet, the Lockheed official said.

But overall, the company official said, if U.S. officials clear the way, Lockheed expects to sell Japan a Raptor that is “not that different” from the war planes that will fly with U.S. Air Force markings. “I wouldn't expect a dramatic change” to the fighter's closely held futuristic systems, the Lockheed source said.

As the proposal makes its way through the Pentagon and around Washington, U.S. officials are likely to engage in talks about the implications of putting the intricacies of three of the fighter's most-advanced systems in the hands of another nation -- even a close U.S. strategic partner like Japan, defense observers say.

Thompson of the Lexington Institute said Feb. 14 that defense and State officials, and lawmakers in Congress, are likely to remain hesitant to export three key F-22A systems: its electronic architecture; “aspects of its low-observable” technologies; and its next-generation data links, such as the Tactical Targeting Networking Technology waveform system.

Additionally, another defense analyst who closely follows Air Force programs pinpointed the fighter's electronic attack, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems. In recent months, Air Force officials have stepped up their efforts to publicly tout the war plane's ISR capabilities.

It was not immediately clear how Japan would tailor its Raptor requirements, or how much a JASDF-specific F-22A might cost.

The Air Force's “fly away cost” per Raptor is about $130 million, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley told reporters following a Pentagon roundtable late last year. Asked how much the Japanese -- or any allied nation interested in buying the fighter -- likely would have to pay for each jet, the Lockheed official said the company “has shown the Japanese the same kind of [per-aircraft cost] numbers Moseley threw out.”

The Japanese defense official told ITAF Feb. 15 that the JASDF plans to send an official to the United States later this year to discuss its fighter-replacement effort -- and the possibility of buying the F-22A -- with U.S. officials. “So, this year is the most important year for JASDF.”

Source: http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,88282,00.html
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TenguNoHi

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Unread post18 Feb 2006, 08:25

I would like to see a Japanese F-22. I really like Japan actually :) Theyre since WW2 a peaceful people and I could see them using the power of the F-22 responsibly.

I hope this works out.

Although, Im not sure LM sees sales of the F-22 overseas hurting sales of the F-35, which I do.

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Unread post18 Feb 2006, 11:21

I'm pretty soure that the F-22J will be a downgraded version of the F-22A just like the F-15J/DJ in comparison with C/D aircraft, so it could cost less-not having all the goodies. Another possible customer is Australia - check this out: http://www.ausairpower.net/nf-98-print.pdf on page 91 they even have Raptor drawings with RAAF markings.
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Unread post18 Feb 2006, 12:23

I don't think Australia would purchase F-22; purely on cost ground tbh. We're also probably on the list but wouldn't purchase due to cost. Just because a document shows possible markings it doesn't mean its so (I personally did a Saudi F-22 a few weeks back). If I remember, the RAAF have already commited to a single-type fast jet fleet (JSF).

Japan seem to be the only nation that could possibly purchase F-22, and I can see why the air force are mooting exports.... more sold = lower unit costs = the air force can buy more!

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Unread post18 Feb 2006, 17:53

Up until last year, while I was still in the program, FMS was not on the table for the Raptor, with the exception of some rumors, and a few countries saying that they wished to have some. Also, it's Washington that handles FMS, not the AF.

Japan doesn't really need the Raptor, and Saudi won't get it. This sounds like a ploy to simply keep the production line open. The F-35 will be the plane earmarked for FMS, and this will most likely be the plane we will see Japan, and Australia buy.

Then again, in two years, if we get a certain liberal senator from New York in the Oval Office (who doesn't care about the military), we may start selling all of our military technology to anyone who wants to buy it! :shock:

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Unread post18 Feb 2006, 18:41

I honestly think Japan needs both. Theyre F-15 fleet is aging, and they need a good air to air fighter, and the fall through with the F-2, and the aging F-4s and F-1 fleets lead them to need an A/C with good A-G capabilities. Japan needs fighters that can do 10 times what other fighters can like the F-22 because they are only allowed to take part in defensive actions. If someone targets their air superiority right away and they are only able to get a few A/C up they will want those A/C to be as effective as possible. Japan is also cornered in somewhat of a hot bed, across the coast from China and just south of North Korea, neither countries which have a fond appreciation for them after WWII.

Just my 2 cents.

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Unread post18 Feb 2006, 19:54

TC wrote:
Then again, in two years, if we get a certain liberal senator from New York in the Oval Office (who doesn't care about the military), we may start selling all of our military technology to anyone who wants to buy it! :shock:

To Err is Human. To Forgive is NOT ACC Policy.


I'm fleeing the country if that happens... :wink:

Maybe I could live in Sweden for a few years, Saab has always been a kick-ass company.
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Unread post19 Feb 2006, 08:40

This isn't set in stone yet, so a wait and see type thing. BUT, IMO, a bad move and decision if the Raptor is exported.

I also agree with TC. Why does Japan need it? The F-22 was never meant to be exported and it will have to be extensively modified internally at least if there is any consideration to. But the F-35 is designed to be exported from the start and seems to fit their criterias better.
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Unread post19 Feb 2006, 10:42

Do we really need the F-22? perhaps not. Is it nice to have. Damn skippy. So what if the F-22 needs to be modified for export. If there's any one country I trust the F-22 with, its the japanese. They have been more than trustworthy and faithful enough to justify it. I understand that we don't want to give away too much in order to keep our edge, but at the same time it just makes good business sense to do it. Its a damn shame to build such an awesome aircraft and get so little out of it. To take such a program as the F-22 Raptor and only build 180 aircraft from it is totally BS. Shame on us to be so farsighted. If everything was based on logic, we'd be all driving the same car. Emotion is what drives us. Emotion and pride is what made the F-22. And I am damn proud of it myself. As far as competition goes, the F-22 and the F-35 are designed for 2 totally different reasons, so i don't see a problem here. If I want the best of the best for A2A, F-22 hands down, and F-35 for everything else. Criteria as Scorpion said is always a matter of opinion. Thats how we justify the F-22 to begin with.
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Unread post19 Feb 2006, 19:05

I dont think the F-35 provides adequate A-A abilities that Japan needs either. They are a tiny island cornered in between some of the largest inherirtors of soviet weaponry in the world, and they are not allowed to make any preemtive strikes if threatened. Hence, like I said, whatever they do get up in the air, needs to be completely capable of retaking Japans defense. We kind of owe it too them too. They might not be in the market for another 5th generation fighter if we hadnt pushed them into the terrible atrocity called the F-2 deal. And I dont think Japan would leak out anything on the F-22. The F-15 at its time was just as revolutionary and Japan was trustworthy with that. In fact, if Japan were one of only 2 or 3 nations that had the F-22 they would realise that their secrets are best kept with their owners to maintain their invincibility. Japan is not some peripharary that needs to sell secrets on the F-22 to bring food to their country. They are a strong well established democracy that has promoted American interest since WWII.

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Unread post19 Feb 2006, 19:21

The fact of the matter is, that the Raptor was not built for export, and it will most likely not happen. If the isn't getting more than 180 (or whatever number Congress has allotted us this week :roll:) then FMS can fuhgeddaboudit.

In reality, we don't need excessive numbers of the Raptor, because the fight has changed. Air to Air engagements have dwindled in numbers ever since Desert Storm. The last two wars we have fought have not even featured enemy aircraft...well...all except the ones which were buried in the sand, or bombed on the tarmac. The F-15, 16, and 18 did a great job patrolling a sky empty of all but allied planes.

I believe the last time the Japanese were involved in aerial combat, they were flying Mitsubishi A6Ms. The Japanese, by treaty, do not take the offensive in combat. They are only allowed to defend themselves. They can accomplish this with Blk. 50 or 60 Vipers. Japan also has Kadena, Misawa, and Marine assault carriers to aid in their defense. For Japan, the F-35 may be useful, but I'd be surprised to see them even receive that. The F-22 would simply be excessive.

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Unread post19 Feb 2006, 20:16

I find a few things wrong with your arguments TC. First, Japan will NEVER fly Blk 50-60 Vipers. Even if they were offered them, and they haven't been, Japan would never by anything based off the F-16 Air Frame after all the problems that became of the F-2. Having just pulled out of an economical reccession Japan isnt the kind of country that wants to take a financial risk with an Air Frame like the F-16, that has a reputation for crash incidents, and has in the Japanese minds, in the case of the F-2, never worked propperly and up to standards.

Japan has always thought Aerospace was extremely important and their intent to persue a 5th Generation fighter is rather clear. Like I said, Japan is snugly cornered near North Korea, China, and India isnt that far from them either. 2 of those 3 countries are still bitter at Japan for the atrocities of WWII, and all 3 nations are outfitted with the best in Soviet Technology right now. (Well, N. Korea's Mig-29s are aging but still, and Ive heard rumors theyre planning to buy more.)

The presence of Kadena or Misawa isn't any kind of inssurance that Japan need not build up arms. USAF interest could change TOMMOROW and we may close Kadena or Misawa down just as fast. In fact, doesn't the AF already have some goal set to close down X ammount of overseas bases before 2015 or something like that? Additionally, there may be conflicting interest and political pressure that would stop the US from getting involved on an attack in Japan. For instance, China may attack Japan and Russia may say that if the US intervenes than Russia will intervene with the possibility of Nuclear weaponry, the very political pressure that stopped are intervention in so many Cold War scenarios.

I think its pointless to argue on something like this over a countries basic "needs" for defense because a country can never be "over-defended." (Unless of course your starving your people to build up arms or something :p)

The way I see it, if I get into a fist fight with another guy and I have to let him give me the first punch and just sit their and take it,... Im gonna put on a pair of brass knuckles so as soon as he hits me I can beat the snot out of him as quickly as possible. Now say some country with interest in Japan is like Bob Sapp.... your really going to want to make sure you have a gun or something because even that first punch may knock you out. That guys a bear.

-Aaron
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Unread post19 Feb 2006, 22:02

TC, to say the F-22 is excessive is crazy. The whole reason we build such aircraft is for the simple fact that in war we never want it to be a fair fight to begin with. We build these machines to win a conflict as soon as possible. I'll take excessive any day of the year when it comes military hardware. Also, it acts as one hell of a deterrant to war. If having the F-22 around maintains peace and stability in the region, its paying for itself over and over again. Having Misawa, Kadena, Iwakuni, and the other facilities around doesn't change the fact that the japanese still have their own military and still need equipment to defend themselves. And considering the trade surplus Japan has with us, once again I say it makes good business sense.
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Unread post19 Feb 2006, 22:48

I never said the Raptor was excessive for us. I said it was excessive for Japan. The Raptor is perfect for the U.S., but you guys are missing the point. As late as last year (when I left LM), the Raptor was never earmarked for FMS. There was no real talk of export. Some had mentioned that Australia and Israel had shown some interest, but that was just talk. There really wasn't anything on the boards, and now, it looks like Australia is focusing on the F-35.

If any Raptor FMS deal goes through, I will be very surprised. The U.S. isn't getting the numbers for themselves that they want, so there you go. As I said before, the F-35 would be the best choice for Japan if they are to receive a 5th Gen. fighter from the U.S.

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Unread post20 Feb 2006, 03:00

Does anyone here know japanese very well? Here is a japanese article I found that talks about the JASDF seeking to buy F-22A's for their next generation fighter.

http://www.asahi.com/international/update/0220/001.html

I used an online translator on the site, but it still doesn't make 100% sense

http://www.excite.co.jp/world/english/w ... N&wb_dis=2

Btw.. the reason it says "F-22 of rice" is because America is sometimes referred to as "Beikoku"... where "Bei" means rice and "koku" means country. Don't ask me why we are the rice country, they adopted the name from the chinese...
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