Empty Gesture

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England’s offer to include more F-22s in the next war funding supplemental is an empty gesture at best. Congress has shown great reluctance to buy major items like combat aircraft in war supplementals—F-35s had to be withdrawn from a request last year—and has linked such buys to replacing specific aircraft lost in battle. The Air Force has not lost any F-15Cs in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, although it has put heavy wear and tear on the fleet, much of which is now grounded with stress fatigue cracks. It will be a hard sell getting the non-fighter-savvy members of Congress to go along with an extension of the F-22 production line if it is to be justified as replacing war losses.