Another F-22 Issue in the QDR

Japan and Australia had indicated that they wanted to buy the F-22 as an essential equalizer in the Asia-Pacific region, but no one at the Pentagon seemed to be dealing with the issue. (According to its recently released Defence White Paper, Australia is no longer interested in the F-22.) Defense Secretary Robert Gates has spoken of “building partner capacity” and said at the Air War College this spring that he envisions a “100-wing air force” comprised of the US and allied air arms. Asked yesterday if the Pentagon will engage with Congress to allow either Australia, should it change its mind, or Japan to buy the F-22, Defense Undersecretary for Policy Michelle Flournoy said, “We haven’t gotten to that issue yet” and that it will be addressed in the Quadrennial Defense Review. She said she’s aware of the fact that the clock is running—F-22 production is shutting down—and that she knows of the foreign “interest” in the aircraft. Current Air Force leaders are reluctant to consider F-22 for foreign sales, unlike the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which was designed for export to partner nations.