In an effort to combat Al Qaeda’s non-existent fleet of stealth fighter jets, the Air Force, following an endorsement by the taxpayer-funded Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), approved a new three-year, $11 billion contract for the F-22.
The F-22 is arguably the Pentagon’s most useless weapon system. Not only is it the world’s most expensive fighter jet, but it was conceived in 1985 to fight a Soviet fighter jet that was never built. As wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo show, U.S. air superiority is not in doubt. So it is perplexing that the independent Institute for Defense Analyses would recommend that the Pentagon continue purchasing a jet that has been plagued by technical problems and cost overruns.
But it turns out that IDA is not so “independent” after all. The Washington Post reported today:
The endorsement came from the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a federally financed research center whose president, Dennis C. Blair, is a member of the board of a subcontractor for the F-22 Raptor fighter program, EDO Corp. EDO developed a missile launcher for the F-22 and has held contracts worth at least $38 million that are part of the program, according to its news releases.
Opposition to the F-22 is bipartisan. In the summer of 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld moved to cancel the plane, backing off only when Secretary of the Air Force James Roche threatened to resign. In a recent piece in Foreign Affairs, conservative Fred Kagan pointed out that a single F-22 could pay for 3,000 additional American troops. As the military struggles to afford the costs of repairing and replacing equipment damaged in Iraq, choosing to waste $11 billion on an unnecessary Cold War relic is an outrage.
– Max Bergmann