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Unplugging the F-22 Raptor
Does the Senate’s vote to strip funding for the expensive stealth fighter jet threaten America’s military dominance?
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uesday’s Senate vote to cut off funding for the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter was a big blow against the "military-industrial complex," said Fred Kaplan in Slate. The 58–40 vote was “much wider than expected.” There's no denying this was a "major victory” for Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Obama, who pledged his first veto over this ridiculously costly “Cold War relic.”

The F-22 is “perhaps the most misunderstood weapon system in history,” said John Noonan in The Weekly Standard. Critics say the “hyper-advanced fighter” is no longer needed in the post–Cold War world of “small wars,” but the Raptor’s goal isn’t about “winning small wars”—it’s about ensuring that those wars stay small, by guaranteeing our now-compromised air supremacy.

There are strong strategic reasons to save “bar none the best fighter jet in the skies,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Sadly, the F-22 backers in Congress seem only interested in saving defense spending for their districts. Now, while “China and Russia are building up their conventional forces,” the U.S. Air Force “will have to live with 187 F-22s” already funded.

Yes, let’s look at China and Russia, said David Axe in Wired. China just started producing J-10 fighters roughly as advanced as the 20-year-old U.S. F-16C; Russia can’t advance past its “1980s Su-27.” Our only conceivable aerial peers are strong allies like Britain. Gates is committed to U.S. military supremacy, he just thinks the next big thing—the much cheaper F-35—is the better way to maintain it.

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