Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today addressed the U.S. Air Force's critical need for more F-22A Raptors, an advanced aircraft that would ensure the nation's dominance of the skies for the next 40 years.
The Defense Department wants to cease production of the F-22A at 187 aircraft. Addressing colleagues on the Senate floor, Hatch said more F-22 aircraft are needed to defeat the advanced air defense systems being employed by other nations, many of which are not friends with the United States.
The Senate passed the McCain-Levin Amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill (S. 1390) to eliminate funding in the 2010 defense budget for more F-22s. Hatch called that a mistake, but said the effect on Hill Air Force Base in Utah should be minimal.
"We continue to work to ensure Hill Air Force Base is well-positioned for the future," Hatch said following his speech and the Senate's vote. "While today's vote was not optimal, it is not surprising to see the new administration working to diminish support for our military's air superiority. After spending us blind for the first six months of the year, I believe the administration feels pressured to find cost savings. I just wish they weren't targeting military spending.
"Hill personnel have gained intricate and precise skills working on F-22 maintenance," Hatch added. "We will still be performing that maintenance on the 187 F-22s already authorized and will use that knowledge to perform F-35 and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle airframe work and compete for additional maintenance work."