In an Op-Ed in today's Washington Post, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz answer the question we explored last week--how many F-22s does the Air Force need? The answer? Exactly what Gates said last week. And by the Air Force publicly supporting closing out production of the F-22, the justification for the program has now been stripped down to parochial interests.
Donley and Schwartz say that while the Air Force's warfighting assumptions have differed from the Department in the past--the DoD/Air Force tomaeto-tomahto fight has been a pronounced difference from the Air Force favoring 60 additional aircraft--they recognize that budget constraints are forcing them to make choices:
All of this largely echoes Gates's themes that DoD needs to set priorities and consider inescapable tradeoffs and opportunity costs. In addition to all of the spending we're seeing through the stimulus and TARP, it's great to see another signal that DoD is seriously considering costs as part of their procurement strategy.
-- Mandy Smithberger