John Murtha (D-Pa.) Wednesday said the idea of letting Japan buy the F-22 is attractive, because “if you want to prevent [a war], you have to have the equipment in place so that somebody doesn’t miscalculate.” The chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee said China is a certain future competitor with the US for energy and other raw materials, and in that region, “there should be somebody else besides us” with F-22s. However, Murtha thinks it will be very expensive to render the F-22 suitable for export by reducing some of its capabilities, and the bill may be too high for Japan. An amendment bearing the name of David Obey (D-Wisc.) bans the foreign sale of the F-22, but Murtha told reporters that he and Obey will meet to discuss it. “He’s willing to listen,” Murtha said. If there is a production gap before more can be built for Japan, “one thing for sure, you’re going to lose all the skills you have if you go three years without building an F-22.” Such a slip, and the consequent need to reopen the line, may make the cost prohibitive. “If we don’t continue [the F-22], I don’t see any way the Japanese could come up with enough money that they could buy it.”
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.