Raptors Down Under

Australia intends to press US lawmakers for the rights to acquire the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter. So reports that country’s Herald Sun, citing comments by Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon. “I intend to pursue American politicians for access to the Raptor,” said Fitzgibbon, who is planning to review the nation’s air combat capability. US law currently bars export of the Lockheed Martin-built F-22. But Fitzgibbon said: “We are well-placed to talk to Democrats on the Hill about it, and I want it to be part of the mix.” He is part of the new Labor Party-led government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that unseated John Howard’s Liberal Party-headed coalition in the country’s national election last November. The aforementioned review will re-examine the Howard government’s plans to replace the Royal Australian Air Force’s aging F-111s and F/A-18s with 24 new Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets and about 100 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. US lawmakers are already considering whether to allow USAF to procure more than the 183 F-22s currently on the books. A Congressional Research Service report last summer pitched the pros and cons of allowing foreign Raptor sales, principally to Japan.