Raptor Hindsight

One of the most controversial decisions to occur after the sacking of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne in 2008 was former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ decision to close the F-22 Raptor line at 187 airframes. Moseley’s advocacy for the fighter’s role in USAF’s force structure was widely acknowledged as a contributing factor to his firing. Speaking at an AFA Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies event on Thursday, Moseley said to this day he believes that 2009 decision was one of the most “strategically dislocating” choices the US has made in years. While USAF wasn’t going to get hundreds more airframes, the decision to abrogate the line before getting real savings, and possibly a foreign military sales agreement with a close ally like Japan, was a real setback, Moseley said. The last aircraft coming off the line were ringing up per unit prices around $85 million a piece, Moseley claimed, and if another multiyear had been approved those numbers would have held. There’s no fighter on the market today, with the capability the Raptor has, at this price range, he said. “Knowing what I know now, I would have been more aggressive in defending it,” he emphasized.