Procuring F-22s is a viable option for the Marine Corps in place of acquiring the F-35B strike fighter, according to one Marine Corps officer. Doing this “may seem like an extreme course of action, but it makes the most sense for the Marine Corps for several reasons,” asserted Maj. Christopher Cannon, an operations analyst with Marine Corps Combat Development Command, in a September article in the Marine Corps Gazette, the service’s professional journal. Cannon argues that the Marines could purchase F-22s for less than the F-35’s current flyaway cost. Plus, F-22s would “cost less” to maintain than F–35Bs, he states, citing Air Force estimates of some $44,000 per flying hour for the F-22 and his own projection of up to $50,000 per flying hour for the F-35B. He says this would make the costs of restarting the F-22 manufacturing line worthwhile. Capability-wise, the F-22s “dwarfs the F–35,” he states. Cannon’s article discussed the F-22 option in the context of the two-year F-35B probation period that is intended to give the Marines time to overcome the aircraft’s developmental issues or face F-35B cancellation.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.