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National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I have listened to the debate all day with regard to the national defense authorization bill, and, frankly, it is one of the frustrating aspects of serving in this great body, to sit here and debate an issue like we have debated over the last couple of days and to think that you are going to come to the floor of the Senate and to cast a vote on a very important measure that has been characterized by Senator McCain earlier as one of the most important pieces of legislation or amendments that we will have--and I agree with him that is the case--and all of a sudden we are thrown into an entirely different atmosphere with regard to what has taken place on the floor.

All of a sudden we are not talking about defense, we are not talking about our troops, we are not talking about the national security of the United States, we are talking about hate crimes.

We are in some very difficult times with respect to the national security of our country. While Senator McCain and I disagree on the issue of the F-22 and this amendment, he and I agree strongly--and it is why he is my dear friend and why we agree on most things--about the fact that we ought to be here debating defense issues and voting on defense issues.

It truly is frustrating. I know our soldiers in the field can't understand what in the world is going on in the Senate now, when they thought we were going to be debating and voting on amendments that pertained to them--issues such as their pay raise, their quality of life, weapon systems--and all of a sudden we are thrown into doing something else. So I just want to associate myself with the remarks of my friend, Senator McCain, with respect to why we are here.

With regard to what Senator Levin said, frankly, Senator Dodd, on the other side of the aisle, who has been working very closely with me on the F-22 amendment, he and I had a meeting with Senator Levin and Senator McCain on Monday, and informally--or actually formally agreed between the four of us--which is an informal agreement--that we would have a vote on the Levin-McCain amendment on Wednesday morning. We thought that was kind of a done deal.

Now, all of a sudden we have debated and we have talked about this, we have debated it again, we have talked about the amendment, and now we are thrown into an entirely different scenario on the Senate floor when we have been prepared to vote. I would hope we still have the opportunity to vote in the short term on the issue of the F-22.

On that point, just very briefly, Mr. President, I want to state a couple of things with regard to that issue. I made a very long statement yesterday, and I am not going to go back into all the detail with the reference to the why-fors of the F-22 and its value to the national security of the United States, but there have been some comments made on the Senate floor that I think are important to address.

One of those comments made by Senator Levin was that I had made a statement that there had never been a study by the Air Force which validated the requirement that 187 aircraft be the top line number for the F-22.

What I said was there have been dozens of studies out there over the years on the F-22, and there has only been one study--and it was an internal study at the Department of Defense, without the input of the Air Force--that said 187 is the number. I want to make sure everybody in this body understands every single other study done internally, as well as outside the Pentagon, outside the Air Force, outside the Office of the Secretary of Defense, or inside, has concluded that the requirement for the number of F-22s we need far exceeds the number of 187. The minimum number that has ever been referred to is 243, which is some 56 airplanes more than the 187 we are talking about now.

Last week, in a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, we had GEN James Cartwright, who is a Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman, and I asked General Cartwright if there was any study or any analysis done at the Pentagon that validated the number 187. General Cartwright told me:

There is a study in the Joint Staff that we just completed and partnered with the Air Force which validates the number of 187.

Well, on Monday afternoon, a reporter asked a Pentagon official, and the top spokesman from the Pentagon, Geoff Morrell, made the statement in response to that reporter's inquiry about that study as follows:

Well, it is not so much a study as work products. What I think General Cartwright was referring to is two different work products, one by the Program Analysis and Evaluation shop and one by the Air Force. Not so much a study.

So what has happened is there have been discussions within the Pentagon to attempt to validate the number of 187. It is pretty obvious what I said on the floor of the Senate remains true, and that is that of all the dozens of studies that have been done on the F-22 requirement, the minimum number that has ever been validated is 243. The number goes up from there all the way to 781, which I think was our original number. The number of 381 is the number that has been used in most of the recent studies as the number we need.

Also, with respect to other statements regarding the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and others who are saying that 187 is the number, that is leadership at the Pentagon. The leadership at the Pentagon has the responsibility for sending a budget to the Senate and to the House, but it is our obligation as Members of the Senate and the House to review that budget--sometimes to agree with it; sometimes to disagree with it. We often disagree with it.

In this case, a number of us disagree with the number of 187 as being the top line for the F-22. That is not unusual. But with respect to what the leadership at the Pentagon has said, let me go back to a letter I talked about yesterday, and it is a letter that has been received from Rebecca Grant, the Director of the Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies. What she says in her letter to me is: In the letter of July 13 from Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates, the characterization of F-35 as a ``half-generation newer aircraft than the 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.''

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 contest our electronic countermeasures or reach parity with us.

She also States in that letter:

If electronic jamming fails, the speed, altitude and maneuverability advantages of F-22 remain. The F-35 was designed to operate after F-22s secure the airspace and does not have the inherent altitude and speed advantages to survive every time against peers with counter electronic measures. Only five F-35s are flying today. The F-35 has completed less than half its testing. Developmental tests will not be completed until 2013. It is impossible to assess the full capabilities of the F-35 until operational test is complete in 2014.

The Secretary of Defense and others in the administration are putting all of their tactical air eggs in one basket, Mr. President. That is a very dangerous road down which we should not travel with respect to the national security of the United States and the safety and security of our men and women.


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