"Bridge" Funding Keeps Raptor On Life Support Through Early
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
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.