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Wed, Nov 19, 2008

Young Appears Before Armed Services Subcommittee On F-22

"Bridge" Funding Keeps Raptor On Life Support Through Early '09

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want answers from Pentagon procurement officer John J. Young, regarding the Defense Department's authorization of "bridge" funding to keep the F-22 Raptor program on life support through early next year.

According to The Associated Press, Young was scheduled to appear before the House Armed Services' air and land forces subcommittee Wednesday, to answer questions about the $50 million funding authorization... which is far less than the $523 million authorized to keep production lines running.

David Halfert, spokesman for subcommittee chairman Neil Abercrombie, said the Hawaii Democrat wants to know why Young and the US Air Force "chose to ignore the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act," which authorized the $523 million.

Alas, it's a question most everyone involved already knows the answer to.

As ANN has reported, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other civilian officials in the Pentagon are staunchly opposed to the purchase of any more F-22s, beyond the 183 planes already authorized. They argue the money would be better spent on the comparatively cheaper F-35 Lightning II... which is still in the early stages of an arduous flight test program.

The Raptor, on the other hand, is available now... and is without question the more capable fighter. That's why most US Air Force officials want as many as 381 F-22s. However, Pentagon officials note the F-22's primary advantages -- stealth and speed -- are less important given the nature of modern warfare.

A compromise measure authorizing an additional $140 million would have supported production of as many as 20 more Raptors; the bridge funding clears the way for only four additional planes, but keeps the production line going through the first several months of President-elect Barack Obama's new administration.

That gives the new president time to decide on whether to spend more money to continue production of the Raptor... and, gives both sides additional time to make their cases.

FMI: www.af.mil

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