The Air Force is grasping for yet another reason to justify buying more F/A-22 fighters. This is a hard one to believe.
A story in today’s Aerospace Daily and Defense Report (paid sub. req'd) quoted Lockheed Martin executives saying they’re working to expand the stealthy tactical jet fighter’s electronic attack capability to include improvised explosive devices or IED’s.
Lockheed’s executives mentioned the plans at a news conference in Fort Worth, Texas on Monday, the publication said. They declined to be more specific on plans for the new anti-IED Raptor because they are classified. The announcement comes at a time that Lockheed and the Air Force are vigorously campaigning to increase the number of F/A-22's to more than the roughly 180 included in current defense budget plans.
IED’s are increasingly becoming the weapon of choice for the insurgents in Iraq and in recent months have been responsible for the majority of casualties and deaths of U.S. troops.
It’s curious that such an electronic attack capability would be used on such an expensive aircraft to buy, operate, and maintain. Why not enable such slower, less expensive aircraft like A-10's to use such a technology if, and when, it becomes operational?
More than two decades ago, the F/A-22 was sold to Congress and the public as an air-to-air fighter designed to penetrate deep into Soviet airspace. Since the end of the cold war, it’s been touted as a potential bomber, and most recently, as an aircraft that could “kick down the door” in the event the U.S. needed to perform combat missions in China. Legendary aircraft designer Everest Riccioni critiqued the Raptor in a recent report (pdf) POGO has published.