The White House today flags Defense Secretary Gates’s speech yesterday to the Economic Club of Chicago in which he makes a case against additional funding for the F-22.
"The F-22, to be blunt, does not make much sense anyplace else in the spectrum of conflict," Gates said. "Nonetheless, supporters of the F-22 lately have promoted its use for an ever expanding list of potential missions. These range from protecting the homeland from seaborne cruise missiles to, as one retired general recommended on TV, using F-22s to go after Somali pirates who in many cases are teenagers with AK-47s – a job we already know is better done at much less cost by three Navy SEALs. These are examples of how far-fetched some of the arguments have become for a program that has cost $65 billion – and counting – to produce 187 aircraft, not to mention the thousands of uniformed Air Force positions that were sacrificed to help pay for it."
Gates said that 187 F-22s are "sufficient" and told President Obama that.
"The reaction from parts of Washington has been predictable," Gates said.
As we've covered, President Obama has indicated he will veto the National Defense Authorization Act if the final bill presented to him contains $1.75 billion in additional funding for the F-22. Earlier this week he joined with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to eliminate more F-22s from the defense bill. (That vote was postponed.)