Thursday, July 09, 2009
Air National Guard to Congress: We Need F-22
Congressional Quarterly reports: The director of the Air National Guard, in a statement that has added afterburners to the case in Congress for continued production of F-22 fighters, has told lawmakers that the jet is the optimal choice for replacing aging aircraft that patrol U.S. airspace on homeland security missions. The battle over whether to keep building F-22s or to halt the program, as the Obama administration wants, is shaping up as the most contentious defense budget dispute this year. And the Air National Guard is slowly becoming a force in the gathering campaign for keeping the program alive. “While a variety of solutions abound, I believe the current and future asymmetric threats to our nation, particularly from seaborne cruise missiles, requires a fighter platform with the requisite speed and detection to address them,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III wrote in a June 19 letter responding to an inquiry from Sen. Saxby Chambliss , R-Ga., an advocate of additional F-22 production. Final assembly of the F-22 is handled at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Ga., facility. “The F-22’s unique capability in this arena enables it to handle a full spectrum of threats that the ANG’s [Air National Guard’s] current legacy systems are not capable of addressing.” You'll remember it was not long ago that the grounding of the Air Force's fleet of F-15s left the military with no choice but to ask the Canadian Air Force to assist in the defense of U.S. air space. Secretary Gates has made it pretty clear that any lobbying of Congress for funds not sought by this administration, in particular for the procurement of additional F-22s, will not be looked upon kindly. Apparently General Wyatt is off the reservation.