Change Could Avoid A Showdown With Congress
President Barack Obama yesterday
praised a Senate vote that struck down $1.75 billion in additional
funding in the fiscal 2010 defense budget for more F-22 Raptor
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recommended to the president
earlier this year to end production of the F-22 at the conclusion
of its current funding program in fiscal 2009. Obama had promised
to veto a budget proposal from the Congress that allowed for more
money for the program.
"I'm grateful that the Senate just voted against an additional
$1.75 billion to buy F-22 fighter jets that military experts and
members of both parties say we do not need," Obama said at a news
conference Tuesday following the vote, according to the Armed
Forces Press Service.
"At a time when we are fighting two wars and facing a serious
deficit, this would have been an inexcusable waste of money," the
president said. "Every dollar of waste in our defense budget is a
dollar we can't spend to support our troops or prepare for future
threats or protect the American people. Our budget is a zero-sum
game, and if more money goes to F-22s, it is our troops and
citizens that loose."
The F-22 has not been used in the wars in Iraq and
In his 2010 budget recommendations, Gates favored the newest
manned aircraft, the stealth F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The F-35
carries a larger suite of weapons and is better suited for
air-to-ground missions such as destroying sophisticated enemy air
defenses. An F-35 also costs half as much as an F-22 and, if
supported by the president and Congress, it eventually would become
the "backbone of America's tactical aviation fleet for decades to
come," Gates said.
Gates called the F-22 a "niche, silver-bullet solution for one
or two potential scenarios - specifically the defeat of a highly
advanced enemy fighter fleet."
"The F-22, to be blunt, does not make much sense anyplace else
in the spectrum of conflict," Gates said last week in a speech to
the Economic Club of Chicago.