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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise today to concur with my good friend from Arkansas with respect to H. Con. Res. 135, which acknowledges the role slave labor played in constructing the U.S. Capitol and thank her for her leadership on this issue. Once again, she and I had an opportunity to work on an issue that is important to America and to Americans.
Senator Lincoln has been a true champion for the common man, as well as for all Americans, on any number of issues. It has been a great pleasure to work with her on any number of issues over the years. I do thank her for her great leadership on this resolution.
The story of the very building in which we are standing is a story of freedom. It is a story of how people from every corner of the globe arrived to have a chance to steer their own lives, shape their own destinies, and toil at tasks of their own choosing, not those dictated by birth or caste.
Sadly, however, that shot at freedom was not given to everyone. For those who were brought here against their will and forced to toil for someone else's gain, freedom was a vague concept--for others but not for them. Slavery will forever remain a shameful tarnish on the shining city that is America.
Unbeknownst to most Americans, slave labor helped build our Nation's Capitol. It is one of the saddest ironies of our history that the very foundation of this building in which we have debated the most fundamental questions of liberty was laid by those in shackles. They labored in the heat, cold, and dust of quarries in Virginia and Maryland to cut the stone upon which rests this temple of liberty.
We know very little about these workers and artisans, and of the few records that were kept at the time, only several first names survived, next to those of their owners and sums paid for the grueling labor. From 1793 to 1826, up to 800 slaves at one time painted, roofed, sawed, glazed, and perfected this building which represents a freedom most of them were never to know. They laid the foundation still visible at the Capitol's east front. They carved the marble columns that witnessed so many of the deliberations on the future of our Nation in the old Senate Chamber. They erected and polished the tall marble columns that lend Statuary Hall such elegance and grace.
As the Civil War ripped this Nation asunder over the very issues of human liberty, a slave artisan named Philip Reid cast the statue that crowns this very building, aptly named ``Freedom.'' I am pleased to join with my colleague from Arkansas and my House colleague from my home State of Georgia, Congressman John Lewis, in the submission of S. Con. Res. 135, which directs the Architect of the Capitol to place a marker in Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center acknowledging the role these slave laborers played in the construction of this building and to accurately reflect its history. I would especially like to thank Congressman Lewis for his work in heading the Slave Laborer's Task Force, which recommended that such a marker be designated and erected.
This marker is a small way of showing our gratitude to these Americans, but it is a necessary and proper one.
AMENDMENT NO. 1469
Mr. President, I now wish to move to another issue. It is the issue of the McCain-Levin amendment that is before us on the Defense authorization bill. In the Defense authorization mark, we filed an amendment seeking to add seven F-22s for additional procurement by the Air Force. And as a part of that amendment, we provided all the offsets necessary within the budget to purchase those seven aircraft. That amendment passed in the full committee and now is a permanent part of the mark. The amendment by Senators McCain and Levin seeks to strip those seven airplanes out of that mark and to deny--to basically shut down--the production line for the F-22.
First, with respect to this debate, let me put it in context and draw from a statement by a Washington expert in this area who is known for being bipartisan and level-headed, and that is John Hamre, President and CEO of CSIS, and a former Pentagon Assistant Secretary under the Clinton administration. In an April newsletter, Mr. Hamre stated as follows:
All of the systems proposed for termination by Secretary Gates in his budget have valid missions and real requirements. None of them is a wasteful program. This is a case of priorities. Secretary Gates has decided that these programs don't enjoy the priority of other programs in a constrained budget, but Congress can and should legitimately question spending priorities. Every individual has a unique calculus for prudent risk. Secretary Gates has rendered his judgment. Not only is it appropriate but necessary for Congress to pass final judgment on this question.
Mr. Hamre goes on to say:
I admire Secretary Gates, but it is the duty and obligation of Members of Congress to question his recommendations. These recommendations merit serious and dispassionate debate, not sloganeering. Secretary Gates has made a series of recommendations. Only the Congress can decide what to do for the Nation.
Congress is the branch of government most directly connected to the American people. We have a crucial role in the budget process, which we should not shy away from. Some will say this is a debate about jobs and pork-barrel spending, unnecessary spending and powerful defense contractors. Hopefully, Mr. Hamre's statements have at least partially dispelled what is truly a myth in this respect.
Clearly, jobs are at stake--lots of jobs--and good-paying jobs at that. About 95,000 jobs are going to be lost if the McCain-Levin amendment passes--95,000 good-paying jobs across America. Several thousand of those jobs are in my home State.
But this is not a debate about jobs. This is a debate about the security of the United States of America, and I am going to talk in greater detail about that in a minute.
Since the Korean War, our military has been able to maintain what we call air dominance and air superiority. And what that means is that our Air Force has been able to control the skies, to rid the skies of any enemy aircraft. We have been able to control the skies by having the capability of taking out any surface-to-air missile that might seek to shoot down one of our planes in any conflict with an adversary. Since the Korean War, the United States of America has not lost a foot soldier to tactical enemy aircraft because of our ability to maintain air dominance and air superiority. Well, if we do not have the F-22, our ability to maintain air dominance and air superiority is in jeopardy.
Over the years, we have been in conflicts in different parts of the world with different adversaries, and there will be additional conflicts down the road at some point in time. We hope not, but we know one thing, and that is if we have an inventory--the capability of taking away the enemy's ability to come after us--then it puts our enemy in a difficult position from the standpoint of ever wanting to engage us.
Let me respond now to some comments that Senator McCain made yesterday, and which he and others have made often, about the power of the military industrial complex. Our industrial complex is powerful, but it is not all powerful. If there were not serious national security interests at stake here, we wouldn't be having this debate.
Also, there is absolutely nothing unique about the role of outside interests in the case of the F-22. Anyone involved in the current debate we are having in this body over health care, and even this week's hearings regarding Sotomayor, knows that outside interests, including industry, are intimately involved in trying to influence the process in regard to those issues. It is simply part of the process in a democracy, and there is absolutely nothing unique to it in relation to the F-22. We wouldn't be here if there were not serious national security issues at stake that are worth debating.
However, most importantly, this debate is about what kind of military we need today and what kind of military these young people who are sitting before us today are going to need in the future. It is about the balance between needing to maintain both the ability to win current wars and guard against future challenges. The United States is a global power, with global commitments and responsibilities that exceed Iraq and Afghanistan. We are also a nation that has fought and won wars through the use of technology and not just a total reliance on manpower.
Lastly, we are a nation for whom the basic war-planning assumption for the last 50 years has been that we will control the skies--air dominance and air superiority. If that assumption goes away, so does one tenet of American military strategy and the planning assumptions attached to maintaining air dominance.
A criticism of the F-22s in the bill is that it is funding something DOD does not want. Defense budgets, as enacted into law, always--and I emphasize always--contain measures, be they weapons systems or other programs, that DOD does and does not want. As John Hamre said, it is the job of Congress to assess what DOD requests and to render judgment thereon. If we do not do that, we have given up our oversight role with which the constitution entrusts us. Congress is the branch of government most connected to the American people. It has an important role to play, and we should not shirk that role and be afraid to challenge DOD's priority, when necessary, and when we know they are wrong. This is a debate about military priorities and what kind of military we need. We cannot and should not assume that future challenges will be like today. In predicting where the next threat will come from, the United States of America and our tacticians have a perfect record: We have been wrong every single time.
Jobs are at stake, and a variety of different interests are at stake but, most importantly, what is at stake is our national security and our ability to execute our global responsibilities. That is what is at stake and that is what I am going to focus on in my remarks today.
I would also like to rebut one point critics make about the F-22 not flying in missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senator McCain and Secretary Gates have made this point often and over and over again. But there are numerous and very expensive weapon systems in this budget that we are going to be voting on in the next couple weeks that have not, and hopefully will not, be needed in Iraq and Afghanistan--the Trident missiles, the ballistic missile system, the DDG 1000. There is a long list of items that are not going to be used in Iraq and Afghanistan that are very expensive and that are contained within this authorization bill. That does not mean these systems are not needed. It is merely that they are intended to address a different threat. To argue against the need for a system because it is not being used in the current conflict is shortsighted and betrays a very short-term perspective on our national security.
Frankly, if the Pentagon had wanted to use the F-22 in the current conflicts, they could have been used. I don't know whether a conscious decision was made otherwise, but the conflict in Afghanistan is not over, and we are going to be in that area of the world for a long time to come. I suspect that before it is over, we will have F-22s flying in the region.
Let me just add that these numerous projects that DOD did not request--and there are several DOD projects which DOD did not request--have drawn little or no attention. For example, $560 million for unrequested FA-18s, $1.2 billion for unrequested MRAPs, and significant funds to support a pay raise above what was recommended by the President. We spent a lot more money on these items than what DOD requested. So to come up here and say: Well, DOD didn't request any F-22s and, therefore, we are to salute and go marching on is something we have never done, we did not do in this bill, and we should not have done in this bill.
Let me also address the veto threat regarding the F-22 funding. A veto is a serious step and one that should only be taken when the welfare of our troops or national security is at stake. After doing extensive research of Defense bills as far back as data is available, I have been unable to find one single example where a veto has been threatened or issued in relation to funding that correctly supports an unmet military requirement, as funding for the F-22s in this bill does. It is regrettable the administration needs to issue a veto threat for funding intended to meet a real national security requirement that has been consistently confirmed by our uniform military leaders.
Specifically, in his letter to Senators Levin and McCain, President Obama states as follows:
The Department conducted several analyses which support this position to terminate F-22 production at 187.
I am not sure who was advising the President on this, but that statement is simply not true. Of the countless studies--and I emphasize study after study after study--that DOD has done, only one recommended 187 F-22s, and that study was based on one major contingency operation that has not even been factored into our national security strategy.
There are numerous other studies--again, numerous other studies--including one commissioned by the DOD itself in 2007, which support buying a minimum of 250 F-22s, not 187.
I would also like to offer a few comments on the letter from Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen. Like General Cartwright did at last week's hearing, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen talk about the importance of UAVs in obviating the need for F-22s. That means taking pilots out of the air when it comes to destroying critical adversarial weapon systems that are on the ground or in the air trying to take out our men and women.
What they don't note is that of the UAVs we are procuring in this budget--and I am a big fan of UAVs; we need them in certain scenarios, but of the UAVs we will be procuring in this budget, that we will be procuring in additional budgets, virtually none of them will have any stealth capability, and they will be useless in a situation that requires penetrating denied airspace.
In other words, if we need to fly a UAV into a country--and there are a number of countries in the world today that have the Russian-made SU-30 surface-to-air missiles--those UAVs get shot down every single time. The F-22 is the only weapon system in our inventory that has the capability of penetrating that airspace and firing not one shot, not two shots, but three shots and getting out of that enemy territory before the enemy ever knows the F-22 is in the theater. There is nothing in our inventory or on the drawing board that has that kind of capability--certainly not the UAVs.
As they did in hearings before the Armed Services Committee, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen also do not address the issue of surface-to-air missiles and that the F-22 is more capable against those systems.
Lastly, their letter notes the decision to terminate the F-22 program at 187 has been consistent across administrations. Again, let me just say it was Secretary Gates himself, as the Secretary of Defense at the end of the Bush administration, who decided to procure additional F-22s. We just procured those four F-22s in the supplemental we passed a month ago, or 6 weeks ago--that is additional F-22s beyond the program of record--to keep the option for additional F-22 procurement open for the next administration. So that has not been a decision of previous administrations. It is this administration that is making the decision to terminate the best tactical airplane ever conceived in the history of the world.
In relation to the letter sent yesterday from Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, I would like to quote from a letter I received from Rebecca Grant, a military expert who is at the Mitchell Institute for Air Power Studies. Here is what she says:
In the letter of July 13, from Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates, the characterization of F-35 as a half generation newer aircraft than F-22 and more capable in a number of areas such as electronic warfare and combating enemy air defenses is incorrect and misleading. Air Force Secretary Donley and General Schwartz have repeatedly stated, ``The F-22 is unquestionably the most capable fighter in our military inventory.'' And citing a Washington Post article of April 13, 2009:
The F-22 was designed with twice the fighting speed and altitude of the F-35, to preserve U.S. advantages in the air even if adversaries can test our countermeasures or reach parity with us. If electronic jamming fails, the speed, altitude and maneuverability advantages of the F-22 remain. The F-35 was designed to operate after F-22s have secured the airspace, and does not have the inherent altitude and speed advantages to survive every time against peers with electronic countermeasures. America has no unmanned system programs in production today that can cope with modern air defenses such as those possessed by Iran. The Navy UCASS demonstrator program may produce such a system in several years for carrier-based operations only. However, together, China and Russia have 12 open production lines for fighters and fighter bombers. Only 5 F-35s are flying today. The F-35 has completed less than half its testing. Developmental tests will not be complete until 2013. It is impossible to assess the full capabilities of the F-35 until operational test is complete in 2014.
Let me just add right here, in the history of the United States of America, when it comes to tactical aircraft, we have never ever purchased a tactical air fighter while it was still in test and development stage. We always allow that to be completed because we know there are going to be deficiencies.
Going back to the letter from Ms. Grant:
The United States Air Force will not have a robust F-35 force structure for another 10 years. In addition, the Pentagon removed funding for the F-35 to reach the rate of 110 per year as desired by the Air Force. Departing Air Force Secretary for Acquisition Sue Payton recently warned of potential cost growth in F-35, upon her departure. Cost growth, or a Nunn-McCurdy breach, could slow down the rate at which the United States Air Force takes delivery of the F-35. The letter misrepresents the position of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers.
I ask unanimous consent to have that letter printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD
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Mr. CHAMBLISS. As I mentioned earlier, we see this debate and vote about the need to maintain the ability to win current wars and to guard against future challenges. While respecting Secretary Gates and his desire to emphasize winning current conflicts, we feel his stance with respect to the F-22 does not adequately account for other kinds of threats.
Specifically, I find DOD's assumption that F-22s will only be required in one major contingency or theater to be totally unrealistic. This is the assumption the 187 number is based on. Given the ability and proliferation of advanced surface-to-air missiles which require stealth to counter, and numerous hostile nations' desire for these SAMs, the likelihood of an adversary outside east Asia requiring these systems in the near to midterm is increasingly likely.
In fact, in the press recently there have been reports about a potential adversary seeking to buy the S-30s from Russia. The F-22 is the only weapon system America has that is capable of penetrating the S-30. There is a follow-on, more sophisticated surface-to-air missile being produced by the Russians today. That missile, again, will proliferate around the world at some point in time, and the only weapon system in the inventory of the United States that has capability of penetrating airspace where those weapons exist is the F-22.
The administration's current plan for F-22 basing would result in no F-22s being stationed in Europe or being available to address a crisis situation requiring penetrating denied airspace in the Middle East.
At the press conference announcing his budget recommendations on April 6, 2009, Secretary Gates said there was no military requirement--I emphasize that, ``military requirement''--beyond 187 F-22s, and the Air Force agreed.
On this specific issue, either Secretary Gates misspoke or he was given incorrect information. In any case, this statement has been repeatedly contradicted by his Air Force leadership.
The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Schwartz, in February of 2009, said he suggested he would request some additional 60 F-22s and present analysis supporting that number to the Secretary of Defense during formulation of the fiscal year 2010 budget. He commented that this request was driven by analysis as opposed to some other formulation and spoke of 243 as being a moderate-risk number of F-22s.
On April 16, 2009, after Secretary Gates's budget announcement, while speaking at a National Aeronautics Association event, General Schwartz stated, regarding the F-22: ``243 is the military requirement.'' He commented that 243 would have been a moderate-risk inventory.
On May 19, 2009, before the House Armed Services Committee, General Schwartz testified 243 is the right number of F-22s. Before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 21 of this year, General Schwartz said he gauged the risk of a fleet of 187 F-22s as ``moderate to high.''
Mr. President, 187 F-22s puts America in a ``moderate to high'' risk category, according to the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.
There have been other generals who have made statements with respect to the F-22. I commend these gentlemen because they are, frankly, putting their military future at risk. I know they probably received some harsh phone calls from the leadership. But I know this too. They have also received a lot of calls from majors and captains and lieutenants and Air Force academy students today, as well as Army foot soldiers, just like I have. I know they have gotten those phone calls because I have gotten those phone calls thanking me for being willing to stand up and say: Mr. Secretary, you are wrong about this, and we need more F-22s.
Air Combat Command holds the need for 381 F-22s to provide air superiority to our combatant commanders and protect against potential adversaries.
General Corley, who is the Commander of Air Combat Command, stated that a fleet of 187 F-22s puts execution of our national military strategy at high risk in the near to midterm. Air Combat Command analysis shows a moderate risk force can be obtained with an F-22 fleet of approximately 250 aircraft.
The F-22 underpins our ability to dissuade and defer. Simply put, 243 gives us the required global coverage with 180 combat-coded jets versus 115 to 126 combat-coded jets that we are going to get if we terminate this program with 187 F-22s being purchased.
Mr. President, 180 combat deployed F-22s allows us to quickly win major contingencies with a moderate risk. Lower numbers of F-22s would sacrifice global coverage during a major contingency, encouraging adversaries to take advantage of a diminished ability to ensure air sovereignty. Out of dozens of studies conducted by DOD regarding the F-22, every study except one recommended procuring at least 243 F-22s.
The one study that did not was conducted by the DOD staff without any Air Force input and was based on the assumption that F-22s would only be required in one scenario, which, as stated earlier, is an unrealistic assumption.
General Schwartz and Secretary of the Air Force Donley have spoken often on this issue in the last several months, including an op-ed they put in the paper on April 13. I understand there is another letter coming from them. I look forward to reading it, although I am not sure it can say anything new.
In order to better understand his position, I, along with six other Senators, sent General Schwartz a letter on May 4 of this year. Let me quote from his letter. General Schwartz stated:
We have been consistent in defining a long-term requirement of 381 F-22s as the low-risk fleet, and 243 as the moderate-risk for both warfighting capability and fleet sustainment. The F-22 program of record represents the minimum number for current force planning at higher risk. While 60 more F-22s are desirable, they are simply unaffordable.
I think these comments from General Schwartz confirm what we all already know, that the decision to limit production to 187 is budget driven, pure and simple, and 187 is a high-risk fleet and does not meet the full military requirement.
I would simply like to ask my colleagues: Why should the United States of America accept a moderate to high-risk situation in our ability to carry out the mission of the United States Air Force in the first place?
Substituting F-22s with other aircraft will not serve the Nation's interest. Some have suggested filling the remaining F-22 requirements with other aircraft such as the F-35, the Joint Strike Fighter. I am a big fan of the Joint Strike Fighter. It is going to be a great airplane. But as Ms. Grant stated, we have five flying today that are being tested. We are simply a long way away from the F-35 reaching a full production rate and having the capability for which it was designed. That mission that the F-35 is being designed for is entirely different from the mission of the F-22.
The Joint Strike Fighter is designed for multirole strike missions and not optimized for the air dominance mission of the F-22. All the force structure studies have determined that a complementary mix of F-22 and F-35s is the best way to balance risk, cost, and capability. The F-22 is the only proven fifth-generation fighter in production.
The Air National Guard is charged with providing homeland air defense for the United States and is primarily responsible for executing the air sovereignty alert mission. In addition to the over 1,600 Air National Guard men and women who carry out this mission on a daily basis, the Air National Guard relies on legacy F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft.
The projected retirements of these legacy aircraft--and we have in this budget that we are going to retire 250 F-15 and F-16s. I have no reason to think we will not retire at least another 250 next year, and this trend is going to continue.
Those retirements leave the Guard short of the required number of aircraft to execute this mission. GAO has commented:
Unless the Air Force modifies its current fielding schedules or extends the service lives of the F-15s and F-16s, it will lack viable aircraft to conduct ASA operations at some of the current ASA sites after fiscal year 2015.
The F-15 has been a great airplane. The F-16 has been a great airplane. It has served us so well over the 30 to almost 40 years we have been flying those airplanes. In my home State at Robins Air Force Base, we have an Air Force Depot, a maintenance depot for aircraft. Last year, an F-15 literally fell out of the sky. It crashed.
Those airplanes were immediately sent to Robins Air Force Base. A number of those airplanes were sent to Robins Air Force Base to be checked out. They figured out what the problem was. We have now fixed the problem. But that is the kind of aircraft we are putting our brave men and women who are flying for the U.S. Air Force in today, and we are talking about extending the life of those airplanes for a period of time to meet the mission of the National Guard.
No plan has been developed to fill the shortfall through either modernized legacy aircraft or new aircraft procurement if we stop the production of F-22s at 187. Some 80 percent of the F-16s will be gone in 8 years.
According to LTG Harry Wyatt, the Director of the Air National Guard, the nature of the current and future asymmetric threats to our Nation requires a fighter platform with the requisite speed and detection to address them. The F-22's unique capability in this arena enables it to handle a full spectrum of threats that the Air National Guard's current legacy systems are not capable of addressing. Basing F-22 and eventually F-35s at Air National Guard locations throughout the United States, while making them available to rotationally support worldwide contingency operations, is the most responsible approach to satisfying all our Nation's needs.
So the F-22 is not just needed to counter international threats, but as
we look at a map of the United States and we look at our various Air National Guard locations around the country, we need the F-22, according to the Air National Guard, to supplement the support that is going to be required for the mission of the Air National Guard.
Let me, for 1 minute, talk about another issue that is a part of this overall long-term mission of the F-22, and that is foreign military sales. The F-22 is such a technologically advanced weapons system that a decision was made several years ago that we were not going to share this technology with other countries, as we have done with the F-16 and the F-15, and heretofore basically all our aircraft.
That was probably the right decision, to a point. But today, with respect to the F-35, we are sharing technology on that airplane, which is based upon the technology of the F-22, with the Brits, who are our primary partner with respect to the development and the production of the F-35.
So we have made a decision we are going to share the stealthy technology primarily that is available on the F-22 and the F-35 with the Brits. The F-22 and the F-35 contain a lot of other technologically advanced assets. But we now have the opportunity to develop and produce a somewhat toned-down version of the F-22 to other countries. For the last several years, we have had interest expressed in a very serious way from other countries. One of those countries has been to see me, about 3 weeks ago, and said they are dead serious about looking it purchasing the F-22 as soon as the foreign sales version can be made available.
I happen to know there are other countries that have talked to the contractor as well as the Department of Defense about the potential, down the road, for the purchase of that airplane. Obviously, the contractor cannot get involved in it, but the Department of Defense has consistently said: We have made a decision to this point that we are not going to share that technology with other countries.
Well, we live in an entirely different global world today than we did 10 years or 20 years ago. So it is time we started thinking about the potential for foreign sales of the F-22. Japan has been a very trusted and reliable ally. They need the best aircraft available to defend themselves over the long haul. Because they are an ally of ours in the part of the world in which they exist and because that part of the world has the potential for the development of future adversaries, it is critically important that we continue--and I emphasize that because we have sold them tactical aircraft in previous years--it is important that we continue to share the latest, most technologically advanced weapons systems with friends and allies such as the Japanese.
Let me read you a statement from former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff GEN Richard Myers regarding the need for an exportable version of the F-22. General Myers stated:
Japan's F-15J force, once top of the line, is now outclassed by the new generation of Chinese fighters such as the SU-30MKK. Moreover, China's air defenses, which include variants of Russian-made long-range SA-10s and SA-20s, which is the S-300 family missiles, can only be penetrated by the fast, high-flying stealthy Raptor or the F-22. Japan's defense ministry has studied the problem closely and has produced a very impressive tactical rationale for buying the F-22 if its sale is approved by the United States Congress.
Only under the umbrella of air superiority that the Raptor provides can U.S. military endeavors succeed.
Let me quote from another well-recognized individual, retired GEN Barry McCaffrey, on the need for adequate numbers of F-22s. This statement is about a year and a half old, but it is applicable today.
There is no single greater priority for the coming 10 years for the U.S. Air Force than funding, deploying, and maintaining 350 F-22 Raptor aircraft to ensure air-to-air total dominance of battlefield airspace in future contested areas.
The F-22 provides a national strategic stealth technology to conduct--long-range (Cruises at high supersonic speed without afterburner) penetration (at altitudes greater than 15 kilometers)--undetected into any nation's airspace at Mach 2-plus high speed--and then destroy key targets (aircraft or missiles on the ground, radar, command and control, nuclear stockpiled weapons, key leadership targets, etc)--and then egress with minimal threat from any possible air-to-air or air defense system. It cannot be defeated in air combat by any known current or estimated future enemy aircraft.
That is coming from a ground soldier, somebody who depends on that F-22 and, heretofore on the F-15, to maintain air dominance and air superiority so the ground troops under his command can have the assurance in knowing that they can move freely without the threat of enemy aircraft.
Without more than 187 aircraft, we are not going to be able to guarantee the foot soldier on the ground that capability. The F-22 Raptor is in production and is operationally deployed around the world. Continued F-22 acquisition is low risk, as the aircraft has successfully completed its development program and passed a stringent set of real-world tests. By all measures, the F-22 is now a model program and continues to establish industry benchmarks for an aircraft production program.
The F-22 program is on budget. The contractor team is currently delivering 20 F-22s per year under a 3-year multiyear program that was approved by Congress 3 years ago. The multiyear contact is firm, fixed price, meaning that the U.S. Government is buying a proven capability with no risk of cost growth. It is ahead of schedule. In 2008, every F-22 delivery was ahead of contract schedule.
This ahead-of-schedule performance continues into 2009. Since early 2006, every F-22 has been delivered on or ahead of contract schedule. The contractor is producing a high-quality aircraft. In military aircraft production, the highest standard for quality is zero defect. A zero-defect aircraft is evaluated by the customer to be perfect in all respects. In 2008, nearly one-half of the F-22 deliveries were evaluated to be zero defect--an exceptionally high level of aircraft quality.
Still to this day, no one can say for sure, with any analysis to back them up, that 187 F-22s is enough. The F-22 should be viewed in the collective as a tool in the toolbox.
Detractors argue that the F-22 is single-purpose. Throughout history, we have been effective in adapting the tools we have to the needs we have. All one has to do is to look at what we are doing today with the B-52. That airplane is 50 years old--older than that; it may be 60 years old. There was a point in time when we thought we would retire all of the B-52s. It is a bomber. What are we doing with the B-52 today? Today, the B-52 is flying close air support for our troops in Afghanistan. The SSBNs are being used by our special operations men and women, and they are doing a very effective job.
A general once said that the most tragic error a general can make is to assume, without much reflection, that wars of the future will look much like wars of the past. If we are going to pass a budget and develop a weapons system inventory that is based upon the wars of the past, then we are headed in the wrong direction. The war we are fighting today is entirely different from any conflict in which we have ever been engaged. We have been wrong every single time when it comes to predicting the next adversary we will have.
Senator McCain mentioned the July 10 Washington Post article on the performance and maintainability of the F-22. Let me say that we know nothing appears on the front page of the Washington Post by accident, particularly the week before an important vote. I guess I ought to be flattered by the attention. But for the record, the same reporter who wrote that article on the day of an important hearing in relation to the F-22 multiyear contract in 2006 is the same author of the July 10 article.
The article in question bore absolutely no relation to the issues at stake. Nevertheless, it led to a new study on the savings that would be achieved through a multiyear contract, a study which was conducted at government expense. Despite the article's obvious attempts to obscure the facts and issues in the situation, that new study, done pursuant to request of this body, concluded that the multiyear contract would save twice as much as the previous study.
Just briefly in relation to the Washington Post article, by close of business the day the article was published, the Air Force had already issued a rebuttal. It concluded that of the 23 claims in the article, only 4 were true,
4 were misleading, 10 were false, and 5 required greater explanation and context beyond what the Post article reported.
I ask unanimous consent that a copy of the Air Force statement in rebuttal to the article in the Washington Post be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record
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Mr. CHAMBLISS. The Washington Post article is unique in some ways. I guess it may be SOP for articles that are somewhat vicious and where they contain as many errors as the Air Force has pointed out with the facts supporting the errors that were made; that is, the July 10 Washington Post article was based upon unnamed sources. It was based upon a couple of folks who said they were fired either by the contractor or by the Air Force. We take that for what it is worth.
One of the complaints cited in that article was the fact that there are problems with the skin on the F-22. Let me back up a minute and talk about the sophistication of this airplane. There is a problem with the skin. That has been a problem. What we have to remember is that we have never had an airplane that could fly with the capability that this airplane has, that could fly completely undetected, completely through any radar system of the most sophisticated nature of any potential adversary in the world. The reason this airplane can do that is because it is made of substance and material that is unique and different to this airplane, including the skin on the airplane. Are we going to have problems with something that is that unique and has never been used before on any tactical air fighter? You bet we are.
The position of the folks who are in support of this amendment is that we ought to stop production of the F-22 and buy the F-35 at a faster rate. Even if we do that, if we have F-35s flying tomorrow, they are going to have exactly the same maintenance issues as the F-22. The F-22 is the model upon which the Joint Strike Fighter is based. So let's don't kid ourselves. We are not taking an airplane that costs X and substituting it with an airplane that costs half or three-quarters of X. That is not going to be the case. Mistakes have been made--surely--but it is the first time we have ever had a weapons system like the F-22 manufactured by anybody in the world. From the mistakes we have learned. We are going to have a better F-35. But that F-35 is going to have the same skin problem. It is going to have the same weight problem the F-22 had, the F-15 had, the F-16 had, and probably every airplane we have ever developed. It is going to have the same maintenance issues we are having with the F-22 today.
Although the article was wrong in one major area with respect to maintenance, the article says the maintenance of the airplane was having a success rate of 55 percent. That is wrong. As the Air Force points out, between 2004 and today, the successful maintenance rate on those airplanes has gone from 64 to 69 percent.
The future of TACAIR for the United States likely does reside in the F-35 and not with the F-22. Even if we keep buying F-22s, it will never match the number of F-35s we will eventually buy. Everyone hopes, as I do, that the F-35 succeeds. But as the chair and the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee themselves have stated, there is a good deal of risk in the F-35 program, and there is additional risk in what we need to put in place today when it comes to the lives of our men and women who are fighting our conflicts and who are flying these airplanes.
The history of Defense programs, and aviation programs in particular, has been remarkably consistent, particularly when it comes to building programs that represent a leap in technology. They cost more. They take longer. They have more problems than we expect. GAO has criticized the F-35 approach, and they, as well as the leadership of our committee, have stated that not performing sufficient development testing before we proceed to procurement is one of the primary drivers for cost increases and schedule delays in major programs. That is exactly what is being proposed with respect to the F-35.
I am a supporter of the F-35. We are going to build far more of them than we are F-22s. But I am not the only observer to state that we should think twice about staking the future of our TACAIR fleet on a program that has only five test aircraft flying today.
I wish to talk briefly about the offsets included in our amendment which are in the mark used to fund the purchase of these additional seven F-22s. Senator Levin talked about the offset at length. I would like to respond to some of his comments. Most importantly, there is absolutely nothing in the offset we used and nothing that has not been used by the Senate Armed Services Committee or the chairman himself in previous bills.
Just last year, Senator Levin reduced military personnel funding by $1.1 billion, which is significantly more than what my amendment reduced it by. For the MILPERS and O&M reductions in my amendment and the markup, in each case the amendment takes either less or approximately the same amount as the House Armed Services Committee bill did for this year. In every case, the amendment takes less than the GAO reported average under-execution/unobligated balances in those accounts. This includes the cuts the Senate Armed Services Committee already took in their mark.
The SASC bill itself notes that GAO estimates that DOD has $1.2 billion in unobligated O&M balances and $588 million under-execution in the Air Force civ pay accounts. This is from actual language in the Senate report.
In the civilian personnel area, the GAO reports conclude that more funding is available than what my amendment takes. The GAO report takes into account the expansion of acquisition personnel who will be hired this year.
Regarding MILPERS, GAO analysis suggests that there is on average $1 billion available. My amendment leaves a balance of $200 million in that account.
The chairman also commented on the provision in my amendment that assumes savings based on acquisition reform legislation authored by Senators Levin and McCain. Let me say that my inspiration for this particular offset was Senators Levin and McCain. I thought they did a great job with that bill. I hope we can continue to improve it because it is an area where we have to work harder to avoid wasteful spending.
The chairman included a nearly identical provision as mine in S. 1416, which was the Senate version of the fiscal year 2002 Defense authorization bill. That bill assumed a savings of $1.6 billion based on acquisition reform bills and the SASC bill for that year. However, unlike my provision, which assumes savings already in law because of passage of the Levin-McCain bill, savings assumed by the chairman were based on provisions that were not yet enacted and, based on the conference process, may never have been enacted. Based on inflation and large increases in the DOD budget since then, that is probably the equivalent of $2 to $2.5 billion today. In any case, this is a tremendous amount of savings, and my amendment would assume far less. The offset is based upon predicted savings in the fiscal year 2010 budget based on recently passed acquisition reform legislation such as the Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act, Public Law 111-23, also the business process reengineering provision in the SASC mark and other management efficiencies and business process reforms.
Senators McCain and Levin and President Obama are correct. Savings from this acquisition reform measure could greatly exceed that number, because in their press conference after the successful passage of that bill, they all three talked about the tremendous savings. I agree with them. That is going to happen. That is what we used as part of our offset.
I want to end where I started, by agreeing with John Hamre. John Hamre says:
Congress can and should legitimately question spending priorities.
Not only is it appropriate but necessary for the Congress to pass final judgment on this question.
Secretary Gates has rendered his judgment. .....But it is the duty and obligation of members of Congress to question his recommendations [and his analysis].
There is absolutely nothing unique or in the least bit wrong about what we are doing. Not to do so would be to abdicate the role with which the Constitution and the American people have entrusted us. If President Obama believes the additional funding for these F-22s warrants a veto threat, even though that funding addresses an unmet military requirement, then that is his decision. Our job in Congress, as John Hamre has indicated, is to look at the facts, weigh the risks, and render the judgment. That is our role--our independent role--in the process, and we should accept it and use our best judgment to decide what is right for the Nation.
With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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