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Senate Blinks On The F-22

The Senate voted on Tuesday to remove the funding for seven more F-22 fighters from the 2010 defense budget. This was in line with what the Obama Administration wanted. The F-22 had been added back in the bill by Committee during mark up. The House version contains funding to continue some production so there will be a decision made during conference as to whether any money will remain for the advanced aircraft. The threat of veto from Obama made have had some influence but more likely there were enough Senators who felt comfortable with ending the program.

The House has more members affected by ending the program and the major argument made in its favor was to cushion the economic fallout of the program's completion. There will be several thousand jobs lost across the country if the Conference bill does not contain money for procurement. There will now also be no chance for any other country to buy the aircraft. The F-22 will be placed in the same position as the B-2 bomber which has a limited fleet and cannot carry out large scale operations right now over fears that attrition will increase.

It was a little disingenuous for the President to describe the money spent on further F-22 production as an "inexcusable waste". The Air Force had made it clear they wanted more then the 187 aircraft they will now have in order to meet requirements. The defense budget is over $600 billion and this money was only one-third of one percent of it. There would have been savings elsewhere to come up with the necessary funds. Also when the Federal Government is about to go two trillion in debt the two billion or so for these aircraft are a drop in the bucket.

One of the problems with how the Obama Administration has approached this is that they implied that the 2010 amount is about as much as they will spend on defense. This means that in 2011 - 2013 budgets less will be bought. There are also concerns that operations in Afghanistan and Iraq will eat up money. If you were a U.S. adversary you now know a little more about how Obama will approach the defense of the United States.