The Budget Sacrifice

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services airland panel, wants to know whether the decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stop production of F-22 Raptors at 187 aircraft (the program of record 183 plus four authorized in the 2009 supplemental) was made for “budgetary reasons,” meaning “something had to go here?” Retired Gen. Richard Hawley, former head of Air Combat Command and now defense consultant, said the answer was, for the most part, yes. Testifying before Lieberman’s panel last week (see F-22, C-17 Decisions Based on Suspect Logic), Hawley said, “I do think that that’s a major part.” Along with that, Hawley said, was the belief that persistent cost and schedule problems with myriad weapons programs led DOD officials to believe the only way to make the F-35 Lightning II strike fighter affordable was to stop buying the F-22. He said, “We’re sacrificing operational capability for acquisition efficiency.” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) questioned the analytical basis for the 183 aircraft F-22 program of record, asking former DOD program analysis official Barry Watts whether that earlier decision was also “purely budget driven?” Watts, now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, responded, “Yes, sir, it had nothing to do with requirements.”