Ask the States

Seemingly neglected in the vitriolic F-22 debate that is ongoing today on the floor of the Senate are the needs of the states with responsibility for protecting the airspace on the periphery of the American homeland. Adjutants General in five of those so-called “corner” states (California, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Oregon) are advocating a plan to acquire 100 F-22s to outfit the Air National Guard fighter units in each of their states charged with NORAD’s air sovereignty alert mission, Army Maj. Gen. Raymond Rees, adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard, told the Daily Report in an interview. Only the F-22 is available in the timelines necessary to counter emerging threats to the American homeland, like offshore cruise missiles that could be fired at American cities, Rees said. “The more research we have done, the more convinced we are that it is absolutely imperative,” he said. These Adjutants General are proposing a four-year multiyear deal with Lockheed Martin starting in Fiscal 2011 to acquire these 100 aircraft at rates of 25 per year. This four-year plan would keep the ASA mission viable by bolstering the Air Guard’s fighter inventory, which is otherwise going to be decimated soon by retirements of legacy F-15s and F-16s. It would also move the Air Force’s inventory from a high-risk force of 187 to one of medium risk since these F-22s would be available, like their active duty counterparts, for overseas rotations, Rees said. Further, the four-year build plan would preserve the option of exporting the F-22 to US allies such as Japan. (For more, read Don’t Cut Corners.)