Pouncing on the Bird of Prey

Guess what, folks? As if we haven’t heard this point of view ad nauseum before: the F-22 isn’t needed and continues to be an immense waste of money because al Qaeda and the Taliban have no air forces. So argue Raptor critics Pierre Sprey, James Stevenson, and Winslow Wheeler in the op-ed piece The F-22: expensive, irrelevant and counterproductive that appeared Jan. 27 in the Star-Telegram. Indeed, the F-22’s primary mission of shooting down enemy aircraft “has no meaning in 21st-century warfare,” write Spree, a former Pentagon official who helped design the F-16, and his two colleagues. They believe that, even in the hypothetical event that an opponent did arise to threaten air supremacy, the Raptor, which they term “a huge disappointment,” likely would make disbelievers of us all. Oddly, that is not the sentiment expressed by the pilots who fly them and the forces they’ve met in mock combat. If interested, you can read the rest of their argument for yourself. There are some outside the Air Force that believe purchasing more F-22s is a sound decision, particularly given the state of the F-15 force. And, potential adversaries like the Chinese don’t seem to be banking on 1970s technology to win their next wars, but instead are investing in modern fighters, some considered to be on par with the best of the US fourth-generation fighters.