Michael Donley, Secretary of the Air Force, and Gen Norton Schwartz, chief of staff, have finally explained how the US Air Force advised Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to halt production of the F-22 after 189 aircraft (minus three losses).
The duo published an op-ed today in The Washington Post. Here are the two most relevant paragraphs.
Based on different warfighting assumptions, the Air Force previouslydrew a different conclusion: that 381 aircraft would be required for alow-risk force of F-22s. We revisited this conclusion after arriving inoffice last summer and concluded that 243 aircraft would be amoderate-risk force. Since then, additional factors have arisen.
First, based on warfighting experience over the past several years andjudgments about future threats, the Defense Department is revisitingthe scenarios on which the Air Force based its assessment. Second,purchasing an additional 60 aircraft to get to a total number of 243would create an unfunded $13 billion bill just as defense budgets arebecoming more constrained.
Reading this explanation raises as many questions as it answers. The USAF apparently isn’t revisiting its assessment; the DOD is. So that means the USAF still thinks its assessment remains valid, right? If the USAF has not already re-assessed the basis for a moderate-risk force of 243 aircraft, how can its leadership advise Gates to shut down F-22 production?