Lockheed has posted this new video on youtube, entitled "F-22: Operational, Relevant, Revolutionary". I don't remember relevant as being one of the defining characteristics of a fifth-generation fighter, but maybe it needs to be. After all, US defence secretary Robert Gates did a pretty good job of damning the F-22 with faint praise last week when he told Congress:
"The reality is we are fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theatre. So it is principally for use against a near peer in a conflict, and I think we all know who that is. And looking at what I regard as the level of risk of conflict with one of those near peers over the next four or five years, until the Joint Strike Fighter comes along, I think that something along the lines of 183 is a reasonable buy."
The US Air Force wants 381 Raptors, but Gates and his deputy Gordon England think somewhere around 183 is the right number. "My concern is that the F-22 is $140 million a copy and the Joint Strike Fighter will be about half that, about $77 million a copy. And so my worry is that if the F-22 production is expanded, that it will come at the expense of the Joint Strike Fighter," Gates told Congress.
Sensible words, I think. Meanwhile my colleague Steve Trimble over the The DEW Line is taking a closer look at those questioning Gordon England's motives in trying to kill the F-22...