Senate Defense Authorizers Back More Raptors

In marking up its version of the 2010 defense policy bill Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee added funding for seven more F-22 Raptors. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), a leading F-22 proponent, said in a June 25 statement: “I am pleased that a majority of my colleagues chose to support my initiative to fund these aircraft. Our debate and vote took place with full awareness of the Administration’s veto threat, and the result of the vote speaks for itself.” House defense authorizers also voted to boost Raptor numbers, adding money for another 12 to their committee report on the defense bill. Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), chairman of the House Armed Services air and land panel, speculated that Congress will up the number to 20 new aircraft. And, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the appropriations defense panel, said Wednesday he believes there will be a compromise that puts more Raptors in production. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had remained adamant that 187 Raptors is all that’s needed, but although the Air Force’s top leaders agreed that 187 is all the service could afford, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz has stated that the military requirement is 243.