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Jobs and F-22 Jets: Myth vs. Fact

Lockheed Martin lobbyists have stressed and claimed loss of jobs, especially “union jobs,” and national security needs, to justify purchasing additional F-22 fighters, even though the Pentagon leadership insists we do not need, and should not buy them. This argument is based on several myths. The public and Members of Congress should have the facts. Compiled below are some of the central myths contributing to the continued purchase of F-22 fighters, along with the facts, which demonstrate why they are not essential to preserve jobs in the current economy.

MYTH – At a time of high unemployment and with the current recession, ending F-22 production prematurely would cost the jobs of too many American workers.
FACT – This ignores the fact that the Pentagon wants to use the saved funds to help buy more than 2,000 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which Lockheed Martin also makes. The eventual decrease in F-22 employment, after current procurement finishes, would be significantly offset by employment on the increased F-35 production. F-22 production would not be ended now. Capping the program at 187 planes would keep production lines intact for a few years to come, well beyond the immediate need for stimulus-related job creation.

More importantly, Lockheed Martin claims 95,000 workers on the F-22, which cannot be verified. One analyst estimated 37,000. The same analyst claimed if “additional funding for the F-22 program comes at the expense of public investments in areas such as education, infrastructure, and building weatherization, extending the F-22 program could result in a net job loss in the range of 9,300 to 47,000 jobs per year.”

MYTH – The additional F-22 procurement would preserve the aircraft aspect of America’s military industrial base.
FACT – The large F-35 procurement will do that, too.

MYTH – Finally, apart from jobs, proponents claim we need more F-22s to defend America against foreseeable enemy threats.
FACT – Designed at the height of the Cold War to defend against predicted future generation Russian aircraft, the F-22s already purchased suffice to provide air superiority against any rationally, foreseeable threat. Subsequent events have significantly decreased that threat. Different Air Force and other military requirements to update our forces are much more pressing than adding more F-22s. No F-22 has flown over Iraq or Afghanistan. This is so clear that Lockheed Martin has desperately tried to add features that would turn the F-22 into a ground support attack fighter. However, the Pentagon prefers to buy planes optimized for that role.

MYTH – Prior F22 problems are under control.
FACT – The F-22s cost has soared to a quarter of a billion dollars per plane. It costs $44,000 an hour to fly because the “stealth” fuselage skin that erodes in the rain and the flawed avionics require constant maintenance. Thomas Christie, a top Pentagon weapons testing expert from 2001 to 2005 said, "It flunked on suitability measures — availability, reliability, and maintenance.”

MYTH – Cutting off F-22 procurement reflects the “soft on defense” posture of the Democrats’ liberal wing and endangers our security.
FACT – That’s nonsense. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Secretary of Defense Gates, who also served under President Bush, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Air Force Chief of Staff, all oppose buying more F-22s.

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