Limiting F-22 Force to 187 Is “Real Mistake”

Retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, USAF Chief Chief of Staff during Desert Storm and an unabashed and early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy, says the President is wrong to try to stop production of the F-22. “I think it’s a real mistake,” McPeak told on Friday. “The airplane is a game-changer and people seem to forget that we haven’t had any of our soldiers or Marines killed by enemy air since 1951 or something like that. It’s been half a century or more since any enemy aircraft has killed one of [our] guys. So we’ve gotten use to this idea that we never have to breathe hostile air.” McPeak argues that Obama is “doing a tremendous job” but has received bad advice on the F-22. McPeak told Fox “We do not want to field an Armed Forces that can be defeated by someone simply topping our capability. The F-22 is at the top end. We have to procure enough of them for our ability to put a lid on, to dictate the ceiling of any conflict.” That number, he says, is “some figure well above 200.” Of the F-35, which the Pentagon is pegging as the dominant fighter of the somewhat distant future, McPeak says, “I think the F-35 is going to be a good airplane, when we get it; it’s just not going to be surprisingly good,” largely because it’s been “compromised” by the need to field a common aircraft for three services. Of Obama’s chief military advisor, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, McPeak says, “My bitch is with Secretary Gates who I do not think has shown a lot of judgment here on these calls regarding the Air Force budget.” ( report)