Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ continuing war on the F-22 would benefit from less passion and more facts. The Secretary claims that studies prove that there is no need for additional F-22s beyond the currently planned 187. FACT: Numerous sources have testified before Congress that all known studies indicate the number should be no less than 240 and even as high as 381. The Secretary asserts that the F-22 is a “silver bullet” capability, one good for only one or two scenarios. FACT: Like the B-1, B-2 and venerable B-52 – all employed in 2001 to help defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan – the F-22 can be employed in many scenarios. It will excel in those situations where the adversary employs advanced air defenses (think Iran). The Secretary asserts that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could take the place of the F-22 in penetrating high-intensity air defenses. FACT: All the UAVs currently in the U.S. inventory require a permissive air environment in order to function. It will be decades before the U.S. deploys an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) of any kind, much less one that can deal with advanced air defenses.
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