Paying Attention

It didn’t take long for a cadre of Senators to approach DOD after learning that defense officials had not revealed the outcome of “three separate reports” the department commissioned on the requirements for new F-22 fighters. (See “What They Won’t Tell Us” from our Oct. 31 column.) The reports all concluded, say the six Republican Senators in a letter to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, that to “meet our national defense requirements a far larger number than 183 Raptors will need to be procured.” Aha! The Senators are Robert Bennett (Utah), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), James Inhofe (Okla.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), and John Thune (S.D.). They asked England to put the three reports—in full—before Congress and to publicly release the “conclusions regarding the minimum number of F-22As to be procured.” The Senators do offer England an opportunity to provide his “thoughts and analysis” in a “detailed briefing, before January 15, 2008.” Meanwhile, the 2008 defense spending bill would have USAF begin preparations to buy at least 20 more Raptors, but this is with existing funding and still falls short of the 381 fighters USAF says it needs. The Senators note up front that 381 is based on more than whimsy, citing the birth of at least two new fifth-generation fighters, the India-Russia Sukhoi T-50 and China’s J-12.