Just as the F-35 program bumps harder down it’s rocky road, the last F-22 Raptor is rolled off the production line in Marietta, GA. The cancellation of the Raptor was an incredibly stupid idea to begin with, now roll into the mix the fact that the F-35 is in serious jeopardy and you really have a the possibility for the biggest defense blunder in decades. The choice to curtail Raptor production, mainly on the grounds that they cost some $155M each, and that they could not participate in Iraq or Afghanistan operations, was absolutely near sighted and damaging to the US’s future strategic
capabilities. Now we are left with the F-35 who has an uncertain future and costs almost as much as an F-22, without many of its high performance capabilities. With a force of just 187 aircraft (not including losses), the Raptor fleet would be hard pressed to make a serious continual impact on any major large scale campaign, especially where we need it most, the Pacific Theatre.
Robert Gates’s to lack of vision when it comes to America’s future ability to protect its interests abroad, via a total mishandling of the F-35 program and the premature cancellation of the F-22, will go down in history as a serious strategic miscalculation that resulted in little cost savings while damaging our total force potential possibly beyond repair. The reality is, if we bought a decent amount of F-22’s and further developed the aircraft’s capabilities using the F-35’s avionics suite, and looked toward producing a regional fighter-bomber version of the aircraft down the road, we
would not need the F-35 at all. We could fill the ranks with relatively cheap and effective F-16s in a winning High-Low mix force structure strategy.
More on my thoughts about the Raptor and America’s lack of a
winning high-low capability mix strategy:
In relation to the growing threat from China: