Obama weighs into Raptor stealth superfighter fracas
Royal Navy will be cheering for the president
The White House has signalled that President Obama may veto plans by Washington politicians to maintain production of the F-22 Raptor stealth superfighter. The move has important implications for the British arms industry, and even for the future of the Royal Navy.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, backed by the president, decided in April that America should cease producing the Raptor once it has a fleet of 187. However, members of Congress have subsequently amended the Pentagon budget plans to keep manufacture of the expensive ultrafighter going past that point.
Now, though, staff at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have issued a statement (pdf), saying that the administration "strongly objects" to the extra Raptor funding. The OMB goes on to say that "if the final bill presented to the President contains this provision, the President's senior advisors would recommend a veto".
Argument over the Raptor's future has raged in America and overseas for years. The plane is judged by most analysts to be the most advanced fighter plane flying, giving the US an unbeatable edge in air warfare. But it is extremely expensive and has relatively limited abilities in the field of delivering ground strikes, the main activity carried out by combat jets.
SecDef Gates, confirmed in post by Obama, wants to cut off Raptor production to save money. He would spend some of the cash on cheaper aircraft such as the F-35 "affordably stealthy" strike fighter and on unmanned drones. More money would also go on various initiatives to ease the lives of America's combat troops on the ground.
But ceasing Raptor production would mean lost jobs in the constituencies of various senators and congressmen. Some of them would prefer to keep the Raptor going as an economic-stimulus package - an opposing congressman has described this as "weaponised Keynesianism".
Then, almost all of the global aerospace industry hates and fears the F-35 as it seems likely to dominate the world combat jet market for many years, perhaps putting many of its competitors out of business. Delays to the F-35 will drive up its price and make it less attractive, so rival fighter companies like Boeing are deploying all their Washington clout against the cheaper stealth jet.
More cash for the Raptor is bad for the F-35, so they're in favour. Lockheed, builder of the F-35, isn't resisting them as hard as it normally would as it also makes the Raptor.
and what proof do you have ??
Well, anything we can get to disarm America. Obama's main plan is to weaken America to the point of suicide. Way to go bammie.
>>Are you saying the swearing in of congressmen, presidents, other politicians taking office doesn't include a line "to uphold the independence of the country" or something similar. That would surprise me.
Here is the Oath of Office the new President swears on Jan 20 (with allowances for flubs by the Chief Justice) in full:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Now one could assert that the "defend" bit gets you where you want to go, but there are some problems with this. First the President has sworn to defend the Constitution, as opposed to the physical territory of the US and most folks tend to think of defending the Constitution in other than military terms, for instance by enforcing the civil rights written into the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. Then there is the bit I mentioned previously about the US having had a vestigial Army when not actually fighting Wars throughout its first century and a half. Nobody I know of thought that a violation of the Oath of Office, quite the contrary.
As far as the F-22 controversy itself, my suspicion is that either decision will probably turn out all right. Low rate production has the advantage of increased flexibility. Expanding production, provided you have enough time, should be doable if needed, whereas good luck trying to restart production for such a complex craft once it has been shut down.
On the other hand, as I pointed out, 187 aircraft (especially ones as capable as the F-22) is not exactly a militarily insignificant number nor is the F-35, which is to be built in its stead, exactly chopped liver. Another factor is that the scenarios where the US will need the capabilities of the F-22, and nothing else will do, can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand with change left over. By way of contrast, having a whole bunch of stealthy aircraft that are good at ground attack provides a capability that can be used across a broad swath of scenarios: everything from North Korea decides to restart the Korean War to fights like the current one against the Taliban and Bin Laden in "Af-Pak".
Look at it this way, whatever the decision the US will end up fielding both F-22s and F-35s, all the argument really comes down to is what is the optimal precise proportion of each. Either way, I believe, the results are likely to be acceptable.