That’s a question pondered by Air Force Magazine Editor in Chief Robert S. Dudney in his March editorial, which suggests recent comments about the F-22 by the two top civilian officials in the Pentagon are indicative of “something deeper and more ominous than opposition to a fighter.” Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England recently testified before House and Senate panels that there is no need to purchase additional F-22s above the approved 183 aircraft and, further, they have characterized the “newer” F-35 as comparable to the “high cost” F-22. (Gates even rebuked a senior Air Force general for suggesting that USAF would find a way to fund a full complement of F-22s.) As Dudney writes, Air Force officials have disputed anti-Raptor assertions, but the “bigger question at this point is this: Why, on an issue of supreme importance to the Air Force, does the Pentagon find itself unable to agree with USAF’s leadership? Why does the Air Force lack clout?”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.