Why We Need the F-22
It’s been more than half a century since American soldiers were killed by hostile aircraft. Let’s keep it that way.
By MERRILL A. MCPEAK
The United States relies on the Air Force, and the Air Force has never been the decisive factor in the history of war.
—Saddam Hussein, before Desert Storm
High-end conventional war is characterized by the clash of industrial forces. It’s armored, mechanized and increasingly air-power centric. Few are equipped by training or temperament to understand the phenomenon, especially as it concerns air warfare, a relatively recent aspect of the human experience. (In this regard, Saddam Hussein had plenty of company.) But the bottom line is that in high-end conventional war, neither our Army nor Navy can be defeated unless someone first defeats our Air Force.
For high-end conventional war we’ve built an Air Force that, for now, is virtually unbeatable. Anyone looking at our air-power capabilities knows there is little hope they can concentrate conventional forces for decisive engagement of our Army or Navy. We will track them and pick them to pieces. When Saddam Hussein tried us on for size in the early-1990s, the ground war was a four-day walkover that followed the initial 39 days of aerial combat.
So today, no one in his right mind wants to fight us in a conventional war. Many are saying this another way: that we have no “peer competitor,” that there is no threat of high-end conventional war. I wouldn’t bet the ranch on that, but, if it is so, it is a desirable condition and one that didn’t happen by accident.
We have forced anyone with a bone to pick with us to find an alternative to high-end, conventional war. We’ve had to invent a vocabulary for this low end: “asymmetrical” conflict, it being another poorly understood activity. But it seems clear that in this sort of war our existence is not threatened, that we can regulate the resource input. It can be expensive in men and material, but we cannot be defeated militarily.
When the enemy succeeds, it is because we do not defeat him and then weary of the fight. This is not a good outcome, but it is better—and much cheaper for us in lives and treasure—than losing a high-end, conventional conflict.
The future air combat capabilities we should build are based on the F-22, a stealthy, fast, maneuverable fighter that is unmatched by any known or projected combat aircraft. But the F-22’s production run may soon come to an end at just 187 planes, well short of establishing the fleet size we need. After all, it’s expensive, and getting more so as the number contemplated has been repeatedly reduced. In an argument they seem to think makes sense, critics say the aircraft has no worthy opponent—as if we want to create forces that do have peer competitors.
It’s been more than half a century since any American soldier or Marine has been killed, or even wounded, by hostile aircraft, a period roughly coincident with the existence of the Air Force as a separate service. Even during the Korean War—the Air Force’s first engagement wearing new, blue uniforms—enemy air attack was primitive and rare. The main air battle was fought along the Yalu River, just as in Vietnam it was fought over Hanoi, and in Desert Storm, over Baghdad. Our guys on the ground had hard work to do, but when they looked up, they saw only friendly skies.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why we should wish to change this.
Gen. McPeak (ret.), Air Force chief of staff from 1990 to 1994, was a national co-chair of Obama for President.
Wait, wait, wait, what was that? Gen. McPeak (ret.), Air Force chief of staff from 1990 to 1994, was a national co-chair of Obama for President. Well, well, well. Either Gen. McPeak didn’t actually press the seriousness of the issue on Candidate Obama, or he‘s being kicked to the curb like all the other non-hard-left lobbies whom President Obama seems to have used for support but for whose views he has not a modicum of respect. But it’s late; perhaps Confucius is cranky.
Don’t ask impertinent questions like that jackass Adept Lu.