Given the nature of current and future threats, particularly seaborne cruise missiles, the F-22 is clearly the fighter of choice to protect the American homeland, Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt, director of the Air National Guard, has told Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). “I am fond of saying that ‘America’s most important job should be handled by America’s best fighter,’” Wyatt told the Senator in a June 19 letter that has just been made available publicly. Wyatt’s comments came in response to Chambliss’ request for him to weigh in on the air sovereignty alert mission. The future viability of the mission has come under question by GAO and in Congress due to the Air Force’s current retirement plans for its legacy fighters, its intent to stop F-22 production, and the desire to use new F-35s to fill any voids. Wyatt wrote that while “a variety of solutions abound,” legacy fighters just cannot handle the full spectrum of threats facing the homeland like the F-22 could with its “unique capability.” While he said he is “keenly aware” of the strain on resources caused by current economic woes, he believes that the nation can maintain its vitality “by making smart choices” [his emphasis]. In his view, this would entail “basing F-22s (and eventually F-35s) at strategic ANG locations” throughout the US, “while simultaneously making them available to rotationally support worldwide contingency operations.” With this letter, Wyatt joins Air Combat Command head Gen. John Corley in making an unambiguous argument for more F-22s than just the 187 that the Pentagon plans to buy.
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.