Murtha for More F-22s

House Appropriations defense subcommittee chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) supports further buys of the F-22 and is optimistic that more will be bought, but he said that it will take some wheeling and dealing in Congress to make it happen. Speaking with defense reporters Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Murtha said, “I think we can reach a compromise” on Capitol Hill that would allow the F-22 to go forward. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its defense panel, “feels very strongly about it, and I do, too,” Murtha added. Murtha said he wants the decision to be based on the threat, not on budgets, but that the decision to end the program at 187 aircraft “I think … was made based on cost.” He said that on his panel, “we know the Air Force believes it does not have enough airplanes to train people, deploy people, and have enough spares available.” (see below, The Sustainment Numbers Game) Murtha said Defense Secretary Robert Gates is “adamant” that no further F-22s be bought. He also said there is “strong sentiment” in the House to continue the production line “but not a majority.” Murtha said that the F-22 debate is complicated by the fact that the airplane is still having maintenance issues—although he acknowledged it is still early in its deployment—and by questions about whether the F-35 will perform as advertised.