Dan Blumenthal and Michael Mazza: The Lost Fighter
Following the Obama administration’s lead, the U.S. Senate voted last week to halt production of the F-22 Raptor. Critics of this decision have understandably focused on how it will diminish U.S. airpower. But few realize the extent of the damage this shortsighted cut will also do to the military capability of U.S. allies. Indeed, the geopolitical implications of the cut may prove just as serious in the long-run as the domestic consequences, yet they are rarely discussed, even by the F-22’s defenders.
Consider the United States’ Asian allies — Japan, South Korea, and Australia — as well as its emerging security partner, India. All require next-generation fighters as they upgrade their arsenals. For them, the need for an aircraft like the F-22 could be very real in the near future. They happen to live in a region where power politics still matters and high-end air and naval capabilities are of primary importance. All of these countries are concerned about growing Chinese military power. Not surprisingly, Japan is expressing the most interest in the F-22, but other allies and friends, from South Korea to India, are a good bet to follow. These countries are not suffering from a case of what U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates disparagingly calls “Next-War-itis.” The security threats they face are current and ongoing.