More F-22s, But Not 381

Gen. Norton Schwartz, at his Senate confirmation hearing to be Chief of Staff of the Air Force yesterday, said that he thinks the F-22 should be kept in production … for now. Offering his “personal opinion” to Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Schwartz said that the Pentagon’s preferred number of 183 F-22s should not be “the ceiling,” but added that he believes the long-held Air Force requirement for 381 Raptors is “too high.” Schwartz said he will “delve deeply into the analysis” of F-22 requirements if he is confirmed, and “come back with my best recommendation” to the committee as to the appropriate overall production level for the fighter. He said the aircraft is “essential” to the Air Force’s ability to penetrate and defeat enemy integrated air defenses and to achieve mastery of the air over modern foreign fighters. Schwartz also said the Air Force needs to pump up production of the F-35 from a budgeted 48 per year to 110 or more to offset the rapid aging of the fighter force.