Feeds

Obama weighs into Raptor stealth superfighter fracas

Royal Navy will be cheering for the president

The Power of One Infographic

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.

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.