Inside Analysis, Money Prompted Fighter Calls

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said USAF had conducted “several strategic reviews inside the Air Force” as preparation for its 2010 budget deliberations, including for the F-22 decision “a broader strategic look at the total combat Air Force’s capability that we have … [and] also, that is available to the [Defense] Department.” During Tuesday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Air Force 2010 budget proposal, chairman Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) questioned whether the service was “shortchanging itself” by ending F-22 procurement at 187 aircraft and eliminating 250 legacy fighters in 2010 among other cuts. Donley emphasized, “There is a general view in the department’s leadership that the United States has enough tactical air capability, maybe even a little bit more than we need in relationship to future requirements.” He said the Air Force is “reshaping” itself and, as it does, has had “to make some difficult calls.” Skelton asked Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz the same question, to which Schwartz replied, “If there were many, many more dollars available for our Air Force, we might’ve made different choices.” Schwartz is on record as saying that the military requirement for F-22s is 243 aircraft. However, he told the lawmakers, “It was our judgment, difficult though they were, that discontinuing production of F-22 and C-17, for example, was a way to get us to a position where we could offer the country the best possible air forces for the resources that were allocated to us.” Schwartz added, “So I personally supported both the F-22 decision and the C-17 decision, sir.” (Donley, Schwartz written testimony)