The Blog

Senators Pushing Back On F-22, C-17

4:48 PM, Apr 29, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

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 ‘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.