The PRC Claim to Super-Power Status and the F-22: Not so fast!

By Hon. Ed Timperlake

It has often been claimed that there are no coincidences, which is a debating point without resolution. However, in matters of National Security, smart analysts should always consider that possibility.

The Peoples Daily propaganda machine has recently announced the Peoples Republic of China is now a full-fledged world power and in their opinion all Americans should come to attention and take notice.

A very bold headline on July 30, 2010 in Peoples Daily asks a rhetorical question—“Is US ready to recognize China as world power?”

Of course the article has a delicious sentence written with a sense of ironic whimsy that was apparently missed by the author– “It is easier said than done for the United States to adapt itself to China’s development. Lip service is far from enough to boost the development of Sino-U.S. Relations.”

The article is actually PLA “lip service.” The Peoples Republic of China will remain a second tier but growing military threat to America, but only if the US invests in the modernization of its power projection forces.

By coincidence, Flight International reports on the very same day a way ahead for US national security wellbeing—

“Lockheed to preserve F-22 tooling for future use”
“Lockheed Martin confirms the US Air Force has decided to retain tooling
for the F-22 after the production line in Marietta, Georgia, shuts down
as scheduled in 2012.

A comparison of Russia's T-50 fighter jet on the left and Lockheed Martin's F-22 on the right (Credit photo: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/06/18/putin-boasts-russias-new-fighter-jet-better-planes/)

A comparison of Russia’s T-50 fighter jet on the left and Lockheed Martin’s F-22 on the right (Credit photo: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/06/18/putin-boasts-russias-new-fighter-jet-better-planes/)

The decision means that USAF officials will be able re-visit F-22 production in the evolving political landscape. Hopefully the door will be open after November for future USAF and allied fighter pilots giving thanks to a very strong legal point made by a former USAF civilian assistant and West Point classmate of Secretary Mike Wynne (Class of 1966). John P Wheeler (WP 1966, also a Harvard MBA and Yale Law graduate) pointed out that neither the DOD nor Lockheed Martin Company had the legal authority to summarily and surreptitiously destroy the manufacturing technology for the F-22 production line.

In 2009, the F-22 was capped by a congressional vote President Obama called the F-22 “outdated.” At the same time, the Air Combat Command (ACC) commander called into question the wisdom of stopping F-22 production.

According to a story in the Christian Science Monitor, “In a June 9 letter to a senator, Gen. John Corley, commander of the Air Force’s Air Combat Command, wrote: ‘In my opinion, a fleet of 187 F-22s puts execution of our current national military strategy at high risk in the near to mid term.'”

If the F-22 line is kept alive, and a Raptor export version for Japan, Australia, and the Israeli Air Force is developed, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), who symbolically announced they are ready for the NFL, will find that in actual combat for Air Dominance they are still playing arena league football. (See SLD’s video of a F-22 flyover here.)

This is because the F-22 was always envisioned in partnership with the revolutionary F-35 (see http://www.sldinfo.com/?p=7742). Globally that Hi-Hi mix of 5th Generation Fighters the F-22 and F-35 have the ability to dominate the sky for a generation. (see http://www.sldinfo.com/?p=341)

Many pundits and pols on both sides of politics, liberal and conservative applauded the truncated buy of F-22s. After all there were no near term peer competitors! But that was a big oopsie—when the Russians test flew their F-22ski as Reuters reports on June 18, 2010, “Prime Minister Vladimir Putin climbed into the cockpit of Russia’s newest fighter jet on Thursday and said it would trump a U.S.-built rival, the F-22 Raptor. Putin watched a test of a ‘fifth-generation’ stealth fighter, dubbed the T-50 and billed as Russia’s first all-new warplane since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. ‘This machine will be superior to our main competitor, the F-22, in terms of maneuverability, weaponry and range,’ Putin told the pilot after the flight, according to an account on the government website.”

But nevertheless prudence dictates that the decision to terminate F-22 production be re-examined. Rather than funding public works projects with uncertain benefit for US public interests, funding the F-22 re-enforces the US industrial base and provides the potential for exports. The President has called for doubling the value of US exports, a process surely aided by resuming F-22 production.

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***Posted on August 17th, 2010

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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