Restating the Obvious?

Gen. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, reiterated March 5 that a fleet of 183 F-22s is not enough to meet future threats. “No sir,” Moseley replied to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) when pressed for his personal opinion on the issue during a Senate Armed Services Committee’s hearing on USAF’s Fiscal 2009 budget request. The F-22 is assembled in Saxby’s state. Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne was a bit more nuanced in sharing his personal assessment. “My reliance is on the outside agencies,” he said. He mentioned that one study on the F-22 said that a fleet size of 277 Raptors would get the Air Force to a level of “minimum medium risk.” This figure, Wynne said, would be his threshold for minimum F-22 fleet size, vs. 183. “Otherwise, we’re driven by affordability,” he said. Both Wynne and Moseley have been careful of late to separate their personal views on the F-22 from DOD’s plan as represented in the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2009 budget request. The budget proposal still caps the Raptor fleet at 183, although it does not mandate the termination of the F-22 production line, leaving the option to the next Administration to keep producing more F-22s. Wynne and Moseley both have expressed their thanks to OSD for keeping this option open. The Air Force’s oft-stated, standing requirement is for a fleet of 381 Raptors.