Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."


F-117s to be retired

Despite a U.S. defense budget in excess of a half-trillion (yes, that's a "t") dollars per year, the Air Force doesn't have enough resources to proceed with its modernization program. So, according to an MSNBC report posted this morning, "The Air Force decided to accelerate the retirement of the F-117s to free up funding to modernize the rest of the fleet." Program Budget Decision 720 (signed in December 2005) is coming to fruition six months ahead of schedule.

The F-117 NIGHTHAWK, developed by Lockheed's (NYSE: LMT) famous "Skunk Works", was the first ground attack aircraft designed with low-observable ("stealth") technology. Its first flight was in 1981, and its combat debut was in 1989 during Operation JUST CAUSE in Panama.

So while soldiers and Marines while away in forty-year-old helicopters (q.v. here, here and [from a 1995 report] here), our airmen need to retire dozens of mission-capable aircraft to get more RAPTORS.



At 11/3/08 14:48 , Blogger Jay@Soob said...

Yeah but Raptor has a much nicer ring to it than NightHawk. Especially after those Jurassic Park movies.

Any thoughts on the love affair with the Raptor despite it's limited efficacy in our current struggles?

At 11/3/08 15:48 , Blogger deichmans said...


If it's a "love affair", then its one of the J. Howard Marshall-Anna Nicole Smith variety. That gold-digging platform has all the bling of a blonde, buxom hottie -- but without any other redeeming qualities that make it a suitable "spouse" in the 21st cent. threat environment.

At 11/3/08 16:23 , Blogger Jay@Soob said...

Let me channel some Kaplan here and invite you to imagine the F-22 (or the Stealth Bomber as Kaplan covered) as a very Clauswitzian ideal. An extension of politics through military might. Or a reaffirmation of American hegemony through a blatant show of martial potency.

Personally I'm divided on the F-22 (and -35.) In one respect I understand (and agree to an extent) with Kaplan's vision of effective "Imperialism."

On the other hand, it's quite obvious that the F-22 is rather unsuited for what you define as the 21st century threat environment.

But, again, do we simply sideline the F-22 under the myopic assumption that what we're engaged in now is the face of 21st century warfare?

At 11/3/08 16:46 , Blogger deichmans said...

OK, Swami Soob. Channel away! :-)

There are far more effective ways of affirming national prowess than through quarter-billion-dollar fighter planes and 15-billion-dollar aircraft carriers (though the latter come in quite handy when SSTRO is called for, as evidenced by LINCOLN's support to tsunami victims in Banda Aceh).

As for assuming the future state of the world, there is "myopia" and then there is "paranoia" (i.e., buying every gadget we can dream up). We spend more on defense than the rest of the world COMBINED every year, so I have no doubt we'd be ready for any threat without the Raptor.

At 13/3/08 13:07 , Blogger Stephen Pampinella said...

I can see some utility in having the Raptor. By developing superior technological platforms we guarantee our hegemony against state threats, and thus (via PNM)our first-half Leviathan force remains supreme.

However, that doesn't mean we should scrap good stealth technology for ridiculous stealth technology. Stealth tech in general keeps our Leviathan nasty, and what are the odds that someone else will develop stealth on a pure fighter platform? Not likely.

A better idea might be to build a handful of F-22s rather than a mass fleet of them, so other useful platforms don't get scrapped because we're going all-for-nothing on one. However, the Air Force doesn't seem to want to this (see link). I could tolerate a few F-22s since we could still perserve our other useful platforms. To just wholesale shift to the F-22 just because its new is otherwise incredibily wasteful.

But, waste is what we're good at.



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