Gates keeps F-22 options open

Secretary of Defense Bob Gates has made it clear that 183-187 Lockheed Martin F-22s are enough for him. Yesterday, Gates officially accepted the SECDEF job in the Barack Obama administration. Just a few moments ago, Gates was asked in his first press conference since that announcement about whether he’ll change his mind on the F-22.

Gates replied:

“I think the key here is to do the analysis, examine the air force requirements, talk to the senior leadership of the air force, talk to the new appointees who will come into the department, and then make a decision on how to go forward. But I’m not going to commit today on where I’m going on that subject. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

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10 Responses to Gates keeps F-22 options open

  1. Dave 2 December, 2008 at 10:17 pm #

    That’s what he saying in public… now. Truth is he made up his mind a long time ago. Wanna take bet on the Raptor’s chances? I think 183 is going to be the final number.

  2. Stephen Trimble 3 December, 2008 at 2:17 am #

    I think there’s a pretty good chance it will be 187 (or 189, including two losses). I’m not willing to take a bet on 203 (or 205, technically), but it’s not out of the question either.

  3. Obamanite 3 December, 2008 at 3:08 am #

    Today was actually a great day for the F-22. Two things happened, or rather, one happened and another was said that substantially improve the USAF’s chances at getting closer to, say, 250 than 183. First and foremost, Gordon England – the F-22′s public enemy no. 1 – is out. Today he confirmed he is leaving the Pentagon (thank the lord). Secondly, over at AvWeek, Gates had this to say, “Gen. Schwartz has indicated that he doesn’t think the Air Force needs 381 F-22s. He also doesn’t think that 185 is enough, so the question is can you afford some more F-22s and what is the trade-off for that, particularly in the Joint Strike Fighter program?” That doesn’t sound like someone who is philosophically opposed – as was England – to the idea of the USAF getting more than 183 Raptors. Oh, yes, I almost forgot… A THIRD thing happened, positive for the F-22 but not so good for the country: the F-22′s biggest supporter in the Senate, Saxby Chanbliss, was reelected in his runoff race. While the Repubs’ power in the Senate has been drastically weakened with the Dems holding at least 58 and perhaps 59 seats, continued F-22 production enjoys strong bipartisan support which will make it a very difficult program to kill, even if Gates were predisposed to ceasing production after 187.

    So, in the end, my guess is that F-35 development program will slip, as everyone seems to acknowledge, and that it will continue in LRIP for a couple of years longer than anticipated, which will in turn add another couple of years to F-22 production. My conservative guess is that the USAF will end up with about 250 Raptors.

  4. Stephen Trimble 3 December, 2008 at 3:52 am #

    You know, I think you’re really onto something here! All of this makes sense to me.

  5. Dave 3 December, 2008 at 4:03 am #

    Two losses? I know 4014 was lost, when did we lose the other?

  6. Stephen Trimble 3 December, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    It was very early in development. I’ll try to find a web reference. I think it was 1992-93.

  7. Stephen Trimble 3 December, 2008 at 1:03 pm #

    Got it now: it was the YF-22. Crashed in April 1992.

  8. Liberals are traitors 3 December, 2008 at 7:59 pm #

    Republican losses good for the vountry. Poppycock.

    The democrats have been a diaster for the security of the country since LBJ.

    Please keep you left wing idiocy to yourself.

  9. Dave 3 December, 2008 at 8:20 pm #

    >>>Got it now: it was the YF-22. Crashed in April 1992.<<<

    The YF-22 should count as a F-22 loss, it was an almost completely different airframe…

    As far as I know the 183 number is derived from 2 EMD jet brought up to operational standards, 6 PRTV for OT at Nellis, and 175 production planes with 4090 rolling off the line in December 2011…

    So really we'd have 182 at the end of it all- not counting the loss of the 4014.

  10. Stephen Trimble 3 December, 2008 at 8:23 pm #

    You’ve got a point. Lockheed and the Pentagon both like to quote the two-loss number. That’s probably because they did pay for another aircraft. Even Bob Gates mentioned it in his chat with Aviation Week’s Amy Butler a couple of days ago. So I’m going to stick with it.

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