F-22, C-17 Decisions Based on Suspect Logic

So says retired Gen. Richard Hawley, former head of Air Combat Command, in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services airland panel Thursday afternoon. Hawley declared that the correct number of new F-22 fighters is “381 aircraft, not 187 or even 243.” He said that number is based on two sets of “rigorous analysis” and that the call by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to curtail production at only 187 fighters is “based on no analysis whatsoever.” He was equally critical of Gates’ plan to end C-17 production at 205 airlifters, saying that decision was based on “dated analysis of the requirement.” Various lawmakers have voiced similar concerns, including Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who chaired the airland panel hearing and said later that the testimony by Hawley and other witnesses “reinforces my concern” that “it would be imprudent to cancel and realign our most important defense acquisition programs in the absence of a strategy.” Hawley had made the point that the requirement for 381 Raptors was based on current national security, national defense, and national military strategies and that any decision to change that number should await a review of those strategies and the just-commenced Quadrennial Defense Review. He said decisions to cut these programs at this point “will preempt the full and open debate that should precede any major change to the force-sizing construct.” (Hawley written testimony) (We’ll have more coverage of this hearing.)