This epitaph comes today via Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:
The high-level campaign to save the F-22 as a production system has likely come to an end. Lockheed Martin, the program’s prime contractor, announced that they would cease all lobbying activity after Defense Secretary Robert Gates scratched the Raptor in a series of cost-cutting moves at the Pentagon. That leaves 95,000 jobs at risk:
Lockheed Martin will not spend any more time and effort trying to overturn Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ decision to halt production of F-22 Raptor fighter jets, a top company official said Tuesday.
After making a vigorous case for the F-22 with Gates, other senior Pentagon officials and Congress in recent months, Lockheed plans to move on and meet its commitments for other major defense programs such as the F-35 joint strike fighter. …
Lockheed had lobbied the Pentagon and Congress for months to counter public statements by Gates and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England that the Air Force did not need to buy more F-22s after pending orders for 187 planes are filled.
The company even bought ads in Washington newspapers and on bus-stop benches extolling the F-22’s virtues.
Lockheed instead will focus on accelerating deliveries of the F-35 Lightning II fighter, which Gates chose as priority over the F-22. They want to push the schedule so that they can make up the difference in revenue quickly, as the lack of sales would likely force layoffs rather than transfers to the new program. They scheduled F-35 deliveries originally to begin in 2010 and to meet operational levels in 2012, but with the extra labor and narrower focus, perhaps Lockheed can move those dates up a bit.
The withdrawal will likely close a minor debate point from President Obama’s critics, who looked at the scale of government stimulus spending in other sectors and wondered why the F-22 wouldn’t make a good subject for job preservation. The entire production chain employed 95,000 people by its advocates’ estimates, and the price of delivering the remaining Raptors would have been dwarfed by the rest of Porkulus. With Lockheed conceding the point, the question is now moot.
This is actually a very canny move by Defense Secretary Gates for a lot of reasons. While the F-22 Raptor is a fighter at an almost “Star-Wars” level of technical competence (the only thing it can’t do is fly through space to Tatooine by itself), we still posess the F-15 , which forty years after it’s introduction is still light-years ahead of what most of the rest of the world has to offer. With many years of life still left in it’s airframe and the F-22 a very expensive aircraft, the Raptor is an easy cancellation if only from a budgetary standpoint.
The F-35 Lightning II is another matter altogether. The Lightning is scheduled to replace a broad group of aircraft, including the Air Force’s F-16 fighter, the NavyF/A 18, and the AV-8B Harrier jump jet the Marines fly to devastating advantage. Even older than the F-15, the harrier is very labor intensive to fly, and can only hover for 90 seconds due to engineering limitations of the day. The F-35 will be able to hover indefinitely due to it’s radical turboshaft design; and maneuver like the F-22; which is to say, at levels undreamed of in any other fighter in the world.
So, the F-35 has many of the F-22’s advantages, plus it can hover like a helicopter. Truly awesome.
Now if the Libs go after the F-35, like they usually try to gut the military of all it’s good tools (Jimmy Carter and the B-1 bomber or the M-1 Tank, anyone?) — then I’ll start screaming.
It wouldn’t surprise me.