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[WSJ]Gates and Congress Duel Over Weapons Systems

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Ottomaton, Jul 16, 2009.

  1. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member
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    When the Air Force created the F-22, they did an amazing job of having every single part outsourced to a different congressman's district. This has nothing to do with national defense, and everything to do with congressmen keeping the tap of $$$ flowing to their districts.

    [rquoter]

    Gates and Congress Duel Over Weapons Systems

    CHICAGO -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was determined to forge ahead with changing the priorities of the U.S. military on the same day lawmakers voted to thwart a key component of his plan.

    The dueling visions of what the U.S. fighting forces should look like looms as one of the major battles between the Obama administration and Congress. Mr. Gates unveiled a $534 billion Defense Department budget in April that would cut back or cancel costly weapons systems he believes aren't relevant to the military's needs. But some members of Congress are pushing back, restoring funding to weapons systems that Mr. Gates had sought to kill.

    "The time has come to draw a line and take a stand against the business-as-usual approach to national defense," Mr. Gates said in a speech before the Economic Club of Chicago. "If the Department of Defense can't figure out a way to defend the United States on a budget of more than half a trillion dollars a year, then our problems are much bigger than anything that can be cured by buying a few more ships and planes," he told a crowd of business executives.

    Hours before Mr. Gates spoke, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense moved to restore funding to three key programs, including a costly replacement helicopter for the White House and the supersonic F-22 Raptor fighter.

    The F-22, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., is regarded as the most advanced fighter ever built. Many lawmakers believe that buying more of them is crucial to maintaining a military advantage in conventional threats that could emerge from countries such as Russia or China.

    Mr. Gates thinks the 187 jets the U.S. currently has ordered are enough. He believes that more F-22s, with a price tag of $143 million each, would rob the Pentagon of resources it needs for current conflicts and a new fighter, the F-35 Lightning II. He has staked much of his political capital on blocking Congress from acquiring additional F-22s, and President Barack Obama has threatened to veto any bill that increases funding for the fighter.

    However, some members of Congress appear determined to keep the project alive. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on Thursday added $369 million to the 2010 defense budget as a sort of down payment on 12 more F-22s, following a similar move in the House Armed Services Committee that passed in the House. The subcommittee, headed by Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. John Murtha, also went against the White House by allocating $485 million to continue work on the presidential helicopter, a project terminated by Mr. Gates earlier this summer. A third program Mr. Gates had sought to end, the development of a new engine for the F-35 fighter, received $560 million.

    In the Senate, lawmakers are also trying to add funding back in for the F-22.

    Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, whose state includes the F-22s Marietta assembly line, said in an interview that he expected broad support to buy seven more F-22s for $1.75 billion. Opposing his efforts are Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D., Mich.) and Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.). In his speech, Mr. Gates lambasted supporters of the plane for coming up with "far fetched" usages in order to keep production going, such as hunting Somali pirates with an aircraft he believes has only limited use against advanced fighter planes. He also took aim at critics who say the Pentagon is ill-prepared for a big foe, explaining how the U.S. would stack up against China, whose air force would be outnumbered, and outclassed, by the 2,500 manned combat aircraft the U.S. expects to have by 2020.

    Mr. Gates said his critics' arguments against his initiatives were "the holy trinity of business as usual."

    The rising political stakes come during a week that is marked by some of the first defense-industry layoffs directly tied to the Pentagon's crackdown on weapons programs. Lockheed Martin announced 600 layoffs tied to the Pentagon's termination of the VH-71 program, while Boeing Co. said it was cutting 1,000 defense jobs because of a stop-work order on part of the Army Future Combat Systems program, and cutbacks to missile defense efforts.

    [/rquoter]

    source
     
  2. JeopardE

    JeopardE Contributing Member

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    They want to spend an additional $1.7 billion buying more supersonic fighters they don't need, but they can't be bothered to help out people so that a visit to the doctor doesn't end up in a bankruptcy filing.

    $1 trillion budget deficit and it's still business as usual.
     
  3. DrewP

    DrewP Contributing Member

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    I wish I knew more about the situation but from my perspective Mr Gates seems to know what he's doing. He is an intelligent man with a realistic perspective on the world we live in.

    I trust his word against the ass clowns that populate congress.
     
  4. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    why do you obscure the link, and by extension, the source? sammy does not approve, and suspects nefarious purpose afoot.
     
  5. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member
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    Since I put [WSJ] in the title, I figured it would be pretty obvious, even to you.
     
  6. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Contributing Member

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    what! you put facts on the title?
     
  7. Batman Jones

    Batman Jones Contributing Member

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    Maybe he was trying to give you a chance to pretend you wrote it.
     
  8. thelasik

    thelasik Contributing Member

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    rofl, too good.
     
  9. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    I'm going to get flamed for this, but I think it's crazy to end production so soon on the F-22. Most of the money spent on the fighter, easily the best in the world and better than the F-35, which is still in development, has been spent creating the ability to make it. Research, development, production facilities... all are paid for. To stop at 180+, which limits the number of effective combat squadrons considerably, is a mistake, in my opinion. I think they should build another 60 to 80 F-22's and then close it down, or allow the defense industry to sell a slightly less effective model to our closest allies, some of whom are chomping at the bit to purchase it, like Japan.

    My 2 cents.
     
  10. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Contributing Member

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    It isn't better just different. The F-22 replaces the F-15. The F-35 is going after the F-16 and F-18 among others. F-22 is the air superiority fighter. If we do not have enough to replace current F-15's we will keep those going for far longer and that costs a bit-o-cash for an inferior system.

    Like you said, spending all of the up front cash and then only making a third of what was originally planned makes little sense. It greatly increases the per airframe cost.
     
  11. Rox225

    Rox225 Contributing Member

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    IMO, it's not so much an issue of want but of need, and where the money allocated for the additional F-22's would best be used right now. This issue is even more important now that the Pentagon wants to increase the size of the Army by 30K, which seems a far more urgent task given how stretched the military is right now.

    The bottom line is that the F-22 is meant for achieving and maintaing air superiority during a conventional military conflict with a conventional military power, and not for tracking Al-Qa'ida or Al-Shabab. My problem is that the Senators who argue for the F-22 are making an argument that they know is based on $$$ and not combat readiness.
     
  12. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

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    143 million each is pretty steep.

    I imagine fighting China in 20 years would be like those nature clips where a bunch of ants swarm over a larger beetle.
     
  13. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member
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    A couple of points courtesy of abu muqawama:

    First, it has "issues":

    [rquoter]
    "The United States' top fighter jet, the Lockheed Martin F-22, has recently required more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the skies, pushing its hourly cost of flying to more than $44,000, a far higher figure than for the warplane it replaces, confidential Pentagon test results show...

    ""It is a disgrace that you can fly a plane [an average of] only 1.7 hours before it gets a critical failure" that jeopardizes success of the aircraft's mission, said a Defense Department critic of the plane who is not authorized to speak on the record.

    [/rquoter]

    and, the plane may be like the Yamato & Musashi were for the Japanese in WWII, a great technical achevement that changing conditions have rendered useless:

    [rquoter]
    If you believe that our next war will be a high-tech one against a near-peer adversary like China or Russia, you have to question why exactly that near-peer adversary would even bother letting awesome jet fighters even get off the ground as Andy Krepinevich notes in his latest piece:

    <blockquote>"The Chinese approach would entail destroying or disrupting the U.S. military's communications networks and launching preemptive attacks, to the point where such attacks, or even the threat of such attacks, would raise the costs of U.S. action to prohibitive levels. The Chinese call the military capabilities that support this strategy "assassin's mace." The underlying mantra is that assassin's mace weapons and techniques will enable "the inferior" (China) to defeat "the superior" (the United States).

    "Chinese efforts are focused on developing and fielding what U.S. military analysts refer to as "anti-access/area-denial" (A2/AD) capabilities. Generally speaking, Chinese anti-access forces seek to deny U.S. forces the ability to operate from forward bases, such as Kadena Air Base, on Okinawa, and Andersen Air Force Base, on Guam. The Chinese are, for example, fielding large numbers of conventionally armed ballistic missiles capable of striking these bases with a high degree of accuracy. Although recent advances in directed-energy technology -- such as solid-state lasers -- may enable the United States to field significantly more effective missile defense systems in the next decade, present defenses against ballistic missile attacks are limited. These defenses can be overwhelmed when confronted with missile barrages. The intended message to the United States and its East Asian allies and partners is clear: China has the means to put at risk the forward bases from which most U.S. strike aircraft must operate."</blockquote>

    We really need to rethink our entire concept of airpower. I don't think it lies in F-22s, but in the persistent presence and low-observability offered by the next generation of unmanned and relatively inexpensive drones, operating from longer ranges with a wider variety of weaponry and strike capabilities. That's the real future, not our efforts to build a new generation of fighters that do the same thing but better and with a pointier nose.

    [/rquoter]
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    I thought this was an interesting read. There are very real differences between the F-22 and the F-35, much less the F-15, a design about 40 years old that is increasingly having an issue with cracks in the airframe due to age and use. (read this article to see what I'm talking about - http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/aging-aircraft-usaf-f-15-fleet-grounded-04149/ )


    F-22 Secrets Revealed

    February 12, 2009: The U.S. Air Force has released some performance data on the F-22. The stealthiness factor of the F-22 has turned out to be better than predicted. For radar purposes, the F-22 is about the size of a steel marble. The F-35 comes out as a steel golf ball. The AESA radar turned out to have a longer effective range of about 210 kilometers, versus a 200 on the official spec sheet. The AESA radar is also able to detect enemy radars at a considerable distance, meaning that, if an approaching enemy aircraft is using its radar, an F-22 can detect it about 300 kilometers distant. That gives the F-22 more time to get into position for a decisive first shot at the enemy aircraft.

    These goodies are being released as the air force makes a pitch to delay some F-35 production in order to build more F-22s. The air force generals point out that the first 500 or so F-35s will cost $200 million each (without taking R&D into account), while F-22s only cost $145 million each (without taking R&D into account). The construction cost of the F-35 will eventually go to about $100 million each as more are produced.

    The air force also points out that their simulations (which are classified, so it's difficult for anyone check their accuracy) indicate the an F-22 would destroy 30 Su-27/MiG-29 type aircraft for getting destroyed. But the F-35 would only have a 3:1 ratio, while the F-15 and F-16 would only have a 1:1 ratio (there are a lot of F-15 and F-16 pilots who would dispute this). Thus the need for more F-22s, even if it means fewer F-35s (in the near and long term).

    The air force also points out that, with a force of 183 F-22s (all Congress will allow them to build at the moment), only about a hundred would be available for combat (the rest would be down for maintenance or used for training.) By building another 60-100 F-22s, and reducing initial F-35 production by that much, American air superiority would be much improved, at no (well, not much) additional expense. Or so goes the pitch.

    http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htairfo/articles/20090212.aspx


    I know this kind of topic isn't for everyone, but I've always been interested in defense issues and hardware. Probably goes back to having grown up hearing about what our fathers did in WWII and Korea. The F-15 is reaching the end of its useful life span. Not this year or next year, but in the not so distant future. The F-35 is still to be proven, in performance and production costs. The F-22 will give us decades of air superiority over any possible foe. Considering the cost of another 60-80 F-22's, versus continuing to use the aging F-15 and an unknown timeframe for bringing the F-35 online, I think it is well worth the price. Maintenance issues can and will be worked out. Continuing to have unassailable air superiority is hard to quantify. If we are going to base these decisions on how many conventional missiles China has, we are making a grave mistake, in my opinion.
     
  15. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member
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    Not to be snarky, since the combined global production of SU-27's is probably well short of 3000, at a 30-to-1 ratio we should be in pretty good shape with 100 F-22's, right? Once we've achieved air superiority with the F-22's we have, we can use the F-15's, F-16's, F-18's and F-35's for the ground attack missions that make them so useful. When you start talking about F-16's as air superiority fighters, that isn't their mission. So of course they aren't going to be too good at it. If you want to compare ground attack abilities of those 4 planes vs. the F-22, it will come up short as well.

    And it is congress that wants to build more planes. The Pentagon and the SecDef are the ones who only want 183.
     
    #15 Ottomaton, Jul 16, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2009
  16. Major

    Major Member

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    This is the key here. The people who want these things are wanting it as a jobs program. That's the exact wrong reason to be building military stuff. Transfer that money to building long-term infrastructure for those states if we need to ween them off it. But building crap for the sake of it just to provide jobs is the wrong reason. I doubt any of these Congresspeople have any idea if these planes would be useful or not from a military perspective.
     
  17. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    You are being snarky. Your statement isn't true.

    The 199 fighters still dips well below the 381 F-22s that the Air Force has always claimed it needs, and far short, even, of the 243 fighters set as the new military requirement by the USAF Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz.

    http://www.defpro.com/daily/details/335/


    The truth is that there is no consensus on how many F-22's to build, how many F-35's, and what our force structure should look like in the coming years re the Air Force.
     
  18. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member
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    That is interesting, because Gen. Schwartz very clearly contradicts that in the following editorial:

    [rquoter]
    Moving Beyond the F-22
    By Michael Donley and Norton Schwartz
    Monday, April 13, 2009; Page A15

    The F-22 is, unquestionably, the most capable fighter in our military inventory. Its advantages include stealth and speed; while optimized for air-to-air combat, it also has a ground attack capability.

    We assessed the issue from many angles, taking into account competing strategic priorities and complementary programs and alternatives -- all balanced within the context of available resources.

    We are often asked: How many F-22s does the Air Force need? The answer, of course, depends on what we are being asked to do. When the program began, late in the Cold War, it was estimated that 740 would be needed. Since then, the Defense Department has constantly reassessed how many major combat operations we might be challenged to conduct, where such conflicts might arise, whether or how much they might overlap, what are the strategies and capabilities of potential opponents, and U.S. objectives.

    These assessments have concluded that, over time, a progressively more sophisticated mix of aircraft, weapons and networking capabilities will enable us to produce needed combat power with fewer platforms. As requirements for fighter inventories have declined and F-22 program costs have risen, the department imposed a funding cap and in December 2004 approved a program of 183 aircraft.

    Based on different warfighting assumptions, the Air Force previously drew a different conclusion: that 381 aircraft would be required for a low-risk force of F-22s. We revisited this conclusion after arriving in office last summer and concluded that 243 aircraft would be a moderate-risk force. Since then, additional factors have arisen.

    First, based on warfighting experience over the past several years and judgments about future threats, the Defense Department is revisiting the scenarios on which the Air Force based its assessment. Second, purchasing an additional 60 aircraft to get to a total number of 243 would create an unfunded $13 billion bill just as defense budgets are becoming more constrained.

    This decision has increasingly become a zero-sum game. Within a fixed Air Force and overall Defense Department budget, our challenge is to decide among many competing needs. Buying more F-22s means doing less of something else. In addition to air superiority, the Air Force provides a number of other capabilities critical to joint operations for which joint warfighters have increasing needs. These include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, and related needs in the space and cyber domains. We are also repairing years of institutional neglect of our nuclear forces, rebuilding the acquisition workforce, and taking steps to improve Air Force capabilities for irregular warfare.

    It was also prudent to consider future F-22 procurement during the broader review of President Obama's fiscal 2010 defense budget, rather than as an isolated decision. During this review, we assessed both the Air Force and Defense Department's broader road maps for tactical air forces, specifically the relationship between the F-22 and the multi-role F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is in the early stages of production.

    The F-22 and F-35 will work together in the coming years. Each is optimized for its respective air-to-air and air-to-ground role, but both have multi-role capability, and future upgrades to the F-22 fleet are already planned. We considered whether F-22 production should be extended as insurance while the F-35 program grows to full production. Analysis showed that overlapping F-22 and F-35 production would not only be expensive but that while the F-35 may still experience some growing pains, there is little risk of a catastrophic failure in its production line.

    Much rides on the F-35's success, and it is critical to keep the Joint Strike Fighter on schedule and on cost. This is the time to make the transition from F-22 to F-35 production. Within the next few years, we will begin work on the sixth-generation capabilities necessary for future air dominance.

    We support the final four F-22s proposed in the fiscal 2009 supplemental request, as this will aid the long-term viability of the F-22 fleet. But the time has come to close out production. That is why we do not recommend that F-22s be included in the fiscal 2010 defense budget.

    Make no mistake: Air dominance remains an essential capability for joint warfighting. The F-22 is a vital tool in the military's arsenal and will remain in our inventory for decades to come. But the time has come to move on.

    Michael Donley is secretary of the Air Force. Gen. Norton Schwartz is chief of staff of the Air Force.
    [/rquoter]

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/12/AR2009041202268.html

    My original statement is correct. The only decision makers still pushing for the F-22 are in congress.
     
    #18 Ottomaton, Jul 17, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2009
  19. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Contributing Member

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    He isn't saying there isn't a need for the fighters, he is saying there are greater needs right now for the limited budget. It is a mortgage on the future and putting tons of faith in the F-35.
     
  20. lpbman

    lpbman Member

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    Stealth is pretty useless in close combat. CAS is a job for the big bombers and A-10's, AH-64's and drones like the predator and future global hawk variants. The medium range strike mission is dying with longer range PGM's and is not really superior to current generation foreign made fighters in a furball. So that leaves SEAD and CAS which is also better left to a fighter that can carry more than two bombs. Or if it carries it's weapons externally, F-35 lost any advantage is previously held (over 5th gen). It is also meant to replace the F-16 fleet which has quite a bit more life in them at least compared to the F-15C's which comprise the bulk of air defense capability.

    So if we put the money into keeping the B-1's and B-52's flying and have a respectable number of F-22's to dominate the skies, we would be spending our money on the things we need most. Bomb trucks and the best fighter the wold has ever seen. Or we could spend a good deal more money, and buy the mediocre F-35 which won't outrun anybody, out turn anyone.,

    The ideal situation for an F-35 is to sneak behind enemy lines and and drop two smart bombs on important targets that aren't too far away because tankers aren't stealthy. The F-22 is superior in every way in this mission because it is stealthier, longer range, moves much faster on average and if stealth fails it still outclasses any other plane in the sky with it's huge wing area, p/w, and thrust vectoring.

    The only reason I can see for not killing the F-35 is that the Navy would be in a spot having the not so stealthy Super Hornet to do everything the Navy needs and ironically the Navy is most likely to need the L/O strike capability of the F-35 since AFAIK there has never been serious look towards a naval F-22. That and our allies have invested heavily in the F-35 as "the only stealth you are gonna get" plane.


    For those who say we don't need the F-22, why has the air force used the F-15's so much in the past 30 years, if we never fought the cold war? Owning the sky is everything in modern warfare, so why take second best? It was when the Mustangs flew over Berlin that Germany was finished.
     

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