More F-22s, If You Insist

The Pentagon will request more F-22s than the 183 now on order, but through supplemental war funding, not the regular budget. The news comes from Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, in a Jan. 14 letter to Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Air Force Caucus. Congress had asked England to provide, by Jan. 15, his “thoughts and analysis” on tactical aviation and a justification as to why the Pentagon has stonewalled buying more F-22s when studies show at least 250 are needed. England wrote that “in depth” reviews by the Pentagon show that buying F-35s for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps “provides more effective capability to the joint force commander than concentrating investments in a single service by buying more F-22s.” (So far as we know, it has never been an either-or choice.) He went on to say that the current multiyear F-22 purchase program would provide “sufficient numbers” of Raptors. England said it would be up to Congress to choose whether to fund additional F-22s in the 2009 supplemental. He also offered a briefing “on these issues, including the “department’s rationale for the programmed number of F-22s and the studies that underpin this decision.” Stay tuned.