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Congressional Letter Asks Obama to Add F-22s

January 20, 2009

From: Defense News
By William Matthews

About 200 members of Congress have signed a letter urging President-elect Barack Obama to continue building F-22 stealth fighters.

Lawmakers hope to deliver the letter to the White House on Jan. 20 so that it is one of the first items Obama sees when he enters the Oval Office after being sworn in as president at noon, an aide to Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., said.

The letter notes that Obama’s “certification” is required by March 1 or the F-22 production line will be shut down.

The U.S. Air Force has funding to buy 183 F-22s, but the letter says, “We are convinced that this number is insufficient to meet potential threats.”

Dicks and others say that “several” nations are developing stealthy, twin-engine fighters to challenge the F-22, and that sophisticated Russian SA-20, S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missiles are proliferating worldwide. Stealthy warplanes are better able to avoid the missiles.

If military arguments aren’t enough to save the F-22, the prospect of job losses might be.

The letter says that more than 25,000 Americans work for more than 1,000 companies that make parts for the F-22. “Moreover, it is estimated that another 70,000 Americans indirectly owe their jobs to this program,” the lawmakers say.

“The F-22 program annually provides over $12 billion of economic activity to the national economy,” they write.

This isn’t the first such letter. On Jan. 16, Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., sent Obama a similar letter arguing that “eliminating the $12 billion in economic activity and thousands of American jobs tied to F-22 production simply doesn’t make sense” in the current economic downturn.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has questioned the need for more F-22s, reminding lawmakers during hearings last year that the costly planes have not been used in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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