The Jets and The Sharks
Yesterday, the Senate voted 58 to 40 to no longer fund the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, in favor of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
First, let’s look at the difference between the two aircraft, both built by Lockheed Martin. This 2003 Popular Science article is a great place to start. It compares the two models.
The F-22 Raptor
- Built for the United States Air Force
- Built for air-to-air combat but capable of hitting ground targets
- Price tag: $120 million
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
- Built for the USAF, as well as the Navy and Marines
- The version built for the Marine Corps has vertical lift capability
- Price tag: $35 million
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the current Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen are among those who say that the F-22 is no longer needed, and are a costly burden. The F-22 has never been used in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. The F-35 appears much more adaptable for the new age of warfare involving smaller wars and growing counter-insurgency.
Do these facts stop the Weekly Standard from misleading? No. Editor Michael Goldfarb says, “America is less safe now than it was an hour ago,” and cites Obama’s “weakness of defense” as the culprit.
Note: the Senate vote of 58 to 40 included 15 Republicans voting in favor of not funding the F-22.) I see this as yet another topic on which President Obama can be painted as something he’s not (in this case, weak on defense) when it’s politically useful for the Weekly Standard’s purpose.