Senators Pushing Back On F-22, C-17
4:48 PM, Apr 29, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has obtained a letter now circulating among members of the Senate and calling for Secretary Gates to maintain production lines for both the F-22 and the C-17 "until the final publication of the next Mobility Capability Study and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review." The push back is being orchestrated by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and while the letter is still circulating for signatures, I'm told that Senators Inhofe, Bennett, Chambliss and several Democrats have already offered their support.
The letter warns against an overcorrection in favor of counterinsurgency and urges Gates not to jeopardize America's "air hegemony" by ceasing production of two aircraft that provide critical airlift and air-to-air capability:
With the exception of the Joint Strike Fighter, which has a global, rather than domestic, constituency, no DoD program has quite as much Congressional support as the F-22 (there are contracts for the program in 48 states). It remains to be seen whether opposition in Congress will be sufficiently motivated and organized to push F-22 back into the budget over the objections of the administration, but members seem finally to be getting their act together after Gates announced the cuts at the beginning of their Easter recess.
The full letter follows after the jump...
The Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-1000
Dear Secretary Gates:
One of the greatest responsibilities entrusted to the Congress is to ensure the security of the American people by providing for a strong national defense. With that responsibility in mind, we question the analytical basis for the decision by Department of Defense to terminate the procurement of the F-22 Raptor and C-17 Globemaster III. Accordingly, to ensure the military equipment requirements of the nation are identified through a complete and cogent process, we respectfully request you recommend to the President that production of the F-22 and the C-17 continue until the final publication of the next Mobility Capability Study and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review.
As you well know, in order to maximize the probability of success in military operations rests with the development and execution of strategies that are comprehensive and well thought out. However, recent history has shown major threats to our national security can arise suddenly and in unexpected regions of the world. Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and the events of September 11, 2001 prove this hypothesis. In addition, the difficultly in determining when and where a threat may arise is also compounded by the uncertainty as to what tactics and strategies our enemies may employ. Accordingly, we fully support and encourage your initiative to re-establish counterinsurgency warfare as a fundamental and widespread capability in our nation's Armed Forces.
However, just as our nation made a strategic error in permitting our ability to successfully prosecute counterinsurgency campaigns to wither and atrophy after the Vietnam War, we must not make a similar mistake and undermine two of the unique foundations of our nation's military strength: hegemony of the air and our unprecedented airlift capability. As you correctly stated this January, "our military must be prepared for a â€˜full spectrum' of operations, including the type of combat we're facing in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as large scale threats that we face from places like North Korea and Iran." Therefore, we are concerned the termination of production of the F-22 does not appear to be supported by any analytical study commissioned by the Department of Defense or the Air Force. In addition, though the decision to end production of the C-17 at 205 aircraft was supported by the 2005 Mobility Capability Study, this Study was criticized by the Government Accountability Office for underestimating our nation's future airlift requirements. We are also unaware of any risk assessment that has been performed
based on the Combatant Commanders' requirements as to the decision to cease procurement of the F-22 and C-17.
Regarding the F-22, unclassified extracts of the Air Force's Sustaining Air Dominance Study state "180 F-22s was not enough" and the Department of Defense's TACAIR Optimization study concluded the procurement of additional Raptors "was the best option." On April 16th, these conclusions were reinforced by the comments made by General Norton A. Schwartz after the F-22 procurement termination was announced. General Schwartz stated that "243 [Raptors] is the military requirement." This appears to be in direct contradiction to your statements on April 6th and 7th that there is no military requirement for more than 187 F-22s.
We have similar trepidations regarding the cessation of production of the C-17. In early 2002, even before the true scope and requirements of the Global War on Terrorism became known, the then commander of U.S. Transportation Command argued for the procurement of 222 Globemaster IIIs. Today, as the bulk of our deployed forces will be sent to the land-locked nation of Afghanistan, we are mindful of the critical need for airlift to supply our forces and our allies' operations in that nation. This point is emphasized by the recent Taliban attacks on our supply routes through the Kyber Pass region and NATO supply depots in Peshawar. Therefore, we are puzzled as to why C-17 production would be ended even though a new Mobility Capability Study was scheduled to be published next month.
Just as our recent military history points to the need to maintain a "full spectrum" military force to confront a myriad of very different threats, we are also mindful of a point recently made by Michael Korda in his book on the Battle of Britain. He observed that even though the two British Prime Ministers before Winston Churchill adopted a policy of appeasement, they also committed their government to develop and procure the three pieces of equipment: the Spitfire fighter, Hurricane fighter and radar, which were to ensure that nation's survival during the Battle of Britain.
Accordingly, we respectfully request you recommend to the President that production of the F-22 Raptor and the C-17 Globemaster III continue until the final publication of the next Mobility Capabilities Study and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review can be reviewed and studied.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.