This is both good and bad news: The Pentagon plans to conduct new reviews to determine the appropriate number of F-22 fighters, so says held-over Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Is he aware that the Pentagon quashed previous studies that pointed to a number greater than the DOD-approved 183 Raptors? Now that chief F-22 foe Gordon England is headed out the door, let’s take Gates at his word, when he says, “I think that the key here is to do the analysis, examine the Air Force’s requirements, talk to the senior leadership of the Air Force, talk to the new appointees who will come into the department, and then make a decision how to go forward.” The Air Force has long-held that it needed 381 F-22s and even independent studies said the service would need at least 275 or so. New Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz has said he thinks 381 is too high, so odds are that the number the Air Force posits will come down. At least Gates appears to be keeping an open mind, for he also told reporters Tuesday: “I’m not going to commit today where I’m going on that subject. There’s a lot of work to be done.” (Gates media session transcript)
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.