The (fortunately not-fatal) crash of a F/A-22 Raptor this Monday at Nellis Air Force Base should bring this Cold War-era weapons system back into focus. While we await the answers to why the crash occured, the big picture reveals that we don't need the plane at all.
At a cost of $250 million+ a copy, the plane has, is and will be a drain on the American taxpayer. It's a system that we don't need because it addresses a threat doesn't exist or could foreseeably exist for decades. After all, Al Qaeda doesn't have an air force. Meanwhile this whale of a program is distorting the military's priorities.
Even Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld addressed this issue well yesterday in a USA Today op-ed:
"Working with Congress, the [Defense] department canceled at least two multibillion-dollar Cold War-era Army weapons systems: the Crusader artillery system and the Comanche helicopter. Undoubtedly, others will be considered. Any changes will most likely be opposed by special interests wedded to their systems, but nonetheless, we must continue to shift resources so we will be more adept at meeting today's challenges." (emphasis POGO's)
The Raptor is a perfect example of a Cold War-era weapons system being propped up by powerful corporate interests, aided by Congress. However, the monetary costs are possibly costing lives. While billions are wasted, our soldiers rummage through trash to armor their vehicles.