Says $50 Million F-22 Appropriation Aimed At Saving Money
Let this be stated in no uncertain terms. Undersecretary of
Defense John Young stood his ground before a House subcommittee
that grilled him for nearly three hours Wednesday over funding
allocated for the F-22 Raptor... and emerged absolutely
Which is probably bad news for proponents of the advanced
As ANN reported, Young was called before the
House Armed Services air and land forces subcommittee to explain
why the Pentagon turned its nose at a provision in the 2009 Defense
Authorization Act, calling for a total of $523 million to be
budgeted for the Raptor in 2009. An initial provision of the bill
called for as much as $140 million to be paid up front -- ahead of
the January 20 presidential inauguration -- in order to secure
parts needed for 20 additional F-22s above the US Air Force's
current 183-plane order.
Instead, the Pentagon authorized just $50 million, enough for
just four more planes. According to The Air Force Times, that sent
Congressional lawmakers into a frenzy.
Hawaii Congressman Neil Abercrombie, chairman of the
subcommittee, told Young the Defense act "is not negotiable. You
will obey what the bill says. That holds for the Pentagon and the
secretary of defense." Georgia lawmaker Phil Gingrey said Young was
"acting in defiance of the law and the intent of Congress... Is it
up to you to decide which laws you will follow and which you will
Young did not take the bait. Instead, the Pentagon's chief
weapons buyer told the subcommittee his decision to authorize just
$50 million was intended to avoid wasting money on the F-22, should
President-elect Barack Obama opt to kill the Raptor program... a
move the Pentagon has wanted for some time, but the Air Force and
its friends on Capitol Hill have fiercely resisted.
It's not that the F-22 is a bad airplane; indeed, most defense
analysts consider it superior to any other fighter in the skies
today. But it's also expensive... and the Pentagon would rather
spend the money on the admittedly less-capable, but also far less
expensive, F-35 Lightning II joint-strike fighter.
Young also pointed out the new administration must act quickly
if it wishes to continue the program at a cost-savings. The
Pentagon structured the deal so that Obama and his new defense
secretary must decide by January 21 -- one day after Obama is to be
sworn in as the 44th President of the United States -- to go ahead
with the additional $90 million in parts for the F-22, if it wants
to avoid additional costs to taxpayers.
The price for those parts goes up January 22 -- possibly by as
much as $250 million, if the administration waits until the March
2009 deadline to decide the fate of the F-22 program.
Gingrey -- whose district includes Marietta, where Lockheed
Martin builds much of the F-22 -- appears to have seen through
Young's tactics, and noted the need for a rush decision could kill
the F-22 anyway, by driving up costs (the Air Force Times uses
the word "inadvertently" ahead of those words... but it seems
likely Young knew exactly what he was doing --
Abercrombie lamented the Pentagon's refusal to comply with a
Congressional order "seems a willful rejection of what you've been
ordered to do... Congress rules. The Pentagon can propose, admonish
or put forward recommendations... Nevertheless, in the end,
Congress makes the decisions."
Well... perhaps not so much, as Gingrey later admitted he has no
idea what Congress could do to force the Pentagon to comply. "I
don't know," he admitted. "Do you call the Justice Department? I
For that matter, Young seems to be standing on solid ground
legally... as the provision at question calls for "not more than
$140 million may be obligated" to the F-22 before January 20.
The DoD official helpfully reminded lawmakers that $50 million
is, indeed, NOT more than $140 million.