Deflating the F-22

Over at Wired’s Danger Room blog, covering defense technology, Noah Shachtman writes of the long, weird history of the development of the F-22, noting that as the price of the F-22 went up, the US Air Force had to derive new roles for what was originally intended as solely an air superiority fighter.

In discussing the efficacy of the F-22, Shachtman cites a revealing remark by USAF General Ronald Keys on where the F-22 can be deployed: “If war breaks out, I’m sending the F-22…But not for operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. I didn’t buy the F-22 for Iraq. We’re looking for what can sop up intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance [ISR] in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is the investment [of sending the F-22] worth it? Is it a good idea or just an attractive idea? Will it complicate the air component commander’s problems for no gain?”

As such, concerns about Japanese interest in purchasing the F-22 for the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force — such as the three articles published by South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo (found here, here, and here) — are, for the moment, vastly overblown. Given the natural reluctance to use a fighter aircraft with a $300 million price tag when another plane might do the job, one has to wonder if Japan would go through with the purchase of a fleet of F-22s when what it needs is a durable workhorse, not a fighter so advanced that it nearly crashed when its systems failed while crossing the international dateline.

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