Friday, February 12, 2010

The F-22 vs. F-35 Debate And Government Waste

The US has been carrying the cost of defense for both Europe and Japan, the F-35 JSF was developed in order for our allies to share in the costs of defense.

Unfortunately, the defense department is a part of the government and thus, subject to all the waste and stupidity common to government entities. The F-22/F-35 conflict highlights the problem with having multiple goals.

The F-22 is an air-superiority fighter designed to take out tough defenses. With the F-22, there is no need for the F-35 since legacy F-16 fighters would be able to fly in unopposed and above short range SAM systems.

But then our allies wouldn't be able to share in the costs! So F-35 production moves on, but the F-35 is not as good of an air superiority fighter. It can't overcome tough defenses, but it can perform multi-purpose bombing and other roles and is a replacement for the F-16. The main advantage of the F-35 is that it is cheap, or is supposed to be cheap. But with cost overruns, it might cost over $100 million each when it's all said and done, which means POOR VALUE. No surprise that our government cannot get good value for the money.

The F-22 was designed to break stiff enemy air defenses long into the future. F-22 systems have truly no peer in lethality. The F-22 uses extreme altitude, high speed, high quality stealth, and leading edge sensors to kill and survive on its own terms.

What the two USAF leaders don’t understand is that once the F-22 has cleared the huge threats which are enemy long range super surface to air missiles (SAMs) and enemy aircraft, common legacy aircraft can do the rest of the bombing and not get touched by the lesser threats. In other words, current legacy aircraft that are in production now, the F-15, F-16 and F-18 can drop cheap near all weather precision bombs from high altitude and not get touched by shorter range battlefield SAMs, shoulder fired SAMs, anti-aircraft artillery ( “triple A”) and trash fire. “I can touch you, but you can’t touch me”.

Based on this, the USAF has not justified a reason to acquire the F-35. The F-35 is not interchangeable with the F-22. The USAF claiming that it needs an expensive all stealth fighter force isn’t practical.

With its limited funds, the USAF can rebuild its fighter force to meet requirements of expeditionary war and home air defense. This can be done by funding the F-22 to a proper number of aircraft and buying new build F-16s which still contain a significant war fighting capability.

All these issues show why it's so hard for government to get its act together and why it so often wastes money buying stuff that is not a good value. Obama would be lauded as one of the greatest presidents ever if he could only make government get its money's worth when spending.

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