Senate rejects additional F-22 funding


    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate voted Tuesday to block expansion of one of the country's most controversial and expensive defense programs, the F-22 fighter jet program.

    The Senate voted Tuesday to cut $1.75 billion for an additional seven F-22s from the fiscal year 2010 budget.

    The vote gave the White House and Pentagon a key victory over congressional supporters of the F-22, many of whom represent states and districts where jobs are tied to the production of the jet.

    The vote, which stripped $1.75 billion for an additional seven F-22s from the fiscal year 2010 budget, was a reversal of an earlier Senate committee decision to include money for the program. The change came in a response to strong pressure from President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and several key senators who argued that the additional planes are not needed or wanted by the military.

    The 58-40 vote, which did not break down along typical partisan lines, was the culmination of a classic confrontation between the president and Congress over who is the best judge of the country's military needs.

    "At a time when we're fighting two wars and facing a serious deficit, (expanding the F-22) would have been an inexcusable waste of money," Obama said shortly after the vote. Watch why Obama approves of the Senate vote »

    "Every dollar of waste in our defense budget is a dollar we can't spend to support our troops or prepare for future threats or protect the American people."

    Under the 2010 budget proposed by Gates, production of the F-22 would be halted at 187 planes. The Pentagon instead wants to produce 500 of the more modern F-35 planes over the next five years and 2,400 over time.

    The decision was met with strong opposition in Congress. With the F-22 being manufactured in or getting supplies from 44 different states, the plane gets broad support from congressmen and senators on both sides of the aisle.

    One of the leading proponents for keeping the F-22 program is Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, whose state is home to the factory that assembles the jet. On Tuesday, Chambliss defended his support, arguing that Congress should not just rubber stamp spending decisions by the Pentagon.

    "Our interest and involvement in these issues is appropriate and not just based on parochial issues," Chambliss said.

    Underscoring the drama, Obama threatened to veto the entire defense budget if it included money for the F-22.

    Chambliss noted that there has been a "flurry" of lobbying by the White House and Defense Department.

    "I've never seen the White House lobby like they've lobbied on this issue," Chambliss said. "It's been unparalleled."

    McCain also acknowledged the intensity of the dispute during the final Senate debate.

    "This amendment is probably the most impactful amendment that I have seen in this body on almost any issue, much less the issue of defense," McCain said on the Senate floor.

    "It really boils down to whether we're going to continue (the) business as usual of once a weapons system gets into full production it never dies, or whether we're going to take the necessary steps to really reform the acquisition process in this country."

    The Lockheed Martin jet has never been used in Afghanistan or Iraq, but supporters contend it is needed to fight more sophisticated enemies who might confront the United States in the future, such as China or Russia.

    They also note the thousands of jobs that will be lost if the F-22 program is halted.

    "We put that many jobs at risk, not because the industry is failing, not because it is a bad piece of aircraft, but because the secretary of defense and the administration have decided this program isn't worthy of our support. So explain to those 90,000 people, once they lose their jobs and get laid off," Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Connecticut, said Tuesday

    The F-22 engine is made in Dodd's home state of Connecticut.

    "Terminating production, like closing a base, involves economic loss for communities involved," Levin said. "But we must do so from time to time, and make these difficult decisions based on what is best for the nation and what is best for the men and women of the armed forces."

    Gates has maintained that more jobs will be created in F-35 production than will be lost in stopping the F-22. He said 11,000 jobs will be lost by halting the F-22, while it is anticipated that 82,000 jobs will be created by the F-35.


    ALPA Member
    With the new administration and technology developments everybody is crazy about UAV's.
    Why send a pilot into the battle when a drone can create an illusion of the same effectiveness?
    Lots of young Air Force pilots are assigned to "fly" UAV's straight out of UPT. Bright kids assigned to fly fighters more and more bail out and go to transport or bomber schools so that they can fly a real airplane and get their time for the airlines.

    Bottom line - we are a reactive society. We see good in something, do too much, overshoot, get our tails kicked around and then steer the other way.

    Still Waters

    This is your very Bottom Line: "can create an illusion of the same effectiveness". Well said!


    737-3,5,7,8,9,900ER CA
    It looks better on politicians records. It is all about reelection.
    Liberals think that they can lead me into believing that drons are as good as humans and scream into the press that they are saving pilot's lives and taxpayer's money.

    That's because they have zero understanding on how the war works.
    We will lose more soldiers, the truth will come out, the polls change and they'll find more money for "human" aviation.

    The only question is how many soldiers have to die?


    Liberals think that they can lead me into believing that drons are as good as humans
    I respectfully disagree. Actually, high spending on the drons was a Bushee's ideas. As well as blown out of proportions military budget based on borrowing from China.
    At this point there will be a complete dominance of the US Air Force in the air in any potential conflicts with any world's power. How many more expensive toys we need at this point? Perhaps, we are getting ready for invasion of aliens from Mars? Budget priorities have changed with new administration, iIt is true. So did the world. It happens every 8 years or so.Financial rivers flows different directions these days and that is normal process for the country
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    737-3,5,7,8,9,900ER CA
    If you knew the facts there would be nothing to disagree on.
    However, disagreement is always welcomed, but arrogance is inexcusable.

    I am a strong believer that information leads to educated decisions and unchallenged lies become truths. I wouldn’t name any names, but I also believe that liberalism is a mental disorder.

    I can smell a long discussion, but I don’t plan to solve the World’s problems here so the only comment I'll make is on UAV vs. new “human in the pilot seat” technology.

    Through my job I talk a lot with many commanding officers of variety of positions and ranks and none out of dozens expressed anything positive about the poll targeted changes by the democrats.

    Indeed the Bush administration stood in the beginning of real UAV program with capabilities. Was it high spending? High is a very emotional word. It is effective in the press and at the flee markets.
    I am not the one to judge that. I’ll say it is extremely necessary and successful program. But 2 strike units and one reconnaissance at Beale I would hardly call “high spending” in the perspective of a worldwide war on terrorism.

    On the other hand NONSENSE …. that is going on right now with exploding the program like it is their great idea and hiring Xbox kids without any maturity or judgment to operate the UAV’s just so they can put in the press how cheap and effective the military is becoming … is hurtful to our efforts to take the fight to the enemy.

    I am not sure how to World changed in the past few months, but I know that taking it there we shell because, forgive my selfishness, I’d rather fly my airplane and not lay on the cockpit floor with my throat slit while it is flying somewhere it shouldn’t by someone it shouldn’t be flown.


    That is always excellent idea.
    I also believe that liberalism is a mental disorder.
    On the other hand, one can say that conservatism is a brain cancer that ate country for 8 years and almost ran it down to the ditch. Thankfully, it ate it self first.
    information leads to educated decisions and unchallenged lies become truths
    No argument here a specially in the light of past 8 years.
    one out of dozens expressed anything positive about the poll targeted changes by the democrats.
    I bet neither they said anything negative about that. Soldiers sign up to serve country and to follow the orders of commander not to discuss it.
    high is a very emotional word. It is effective in the press and at the flee markets.
    There is a misunderstanding here. I thought the theme is about purchase of 7 F22's for $1.75B in FY 2010 that was taken out of budget by senate. All what I am trying to say that Pentagon really don't need it at this point.
    is hurtful to our efforts to take the fight to the enemy.
    invention of new tech always had its critics. I am positive that commanders on the filled have latest and greatest hardware.
    I would hardly call “high spending” in the perspective of a worldwide war on terrorism.
    No comments here.
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    737-3,5,7,8,9,900ER CA

    You misunderstood me in many ways, please reread my posts.

    I am not opposing the technology (in fact I work with it every day and want more) and yes all I hear in the media, as well, how distractive the last 8 years were.
    I am very exited about the brighter future, but the way the new administration is doing business is totally opposite of what they advertised and promised – we only dig dipper.
    The UAV program is only a tiny part of the country showing just that.

    Why did you assume that I talk to soldiers????
    It is too early for soldiers to make it to airline pilots ranks :)
    I share cockpits with Generals and Colonels who are still in service (and are Commanders on the field) and believe me they do talk from their hearts.
    Also don’t assume that I am a conservative, however I bet you misunderstand that word too.

    If only more people in the World form their opinions on facts, not on assumptions!

    Let me make it clear again..
    I oppose the way the UAV program is being developed NOW:
    The growth rate is extremely fast
    The contractors are the cheapest, not the best like it was for the past 8 years.
    A LOT of new UAV operators are kids with no judgment, maturity nor aeronautical experience.
    There are cuts across the board in the armed forces with the hope of UAV being a good substitution.

    It is distractive and weakens our country that is becoming less of a place where dreams come true.