Secretary Carter Opposes Restarting F-22 Production
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter weighed in on the recently revived debate about the F-22, telling reporters May 12 that he is against resuming production of the stealthy fighter jet.
The Raptor, built by Lockheed Martin, was cancelled in 2009 at the insistence of then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. At the time, Gates argued that the money required to build more aircraft would be better spent on other priorities at a time when the U.S. military was bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting low-tech insurgents.
The Pentagon only procured 187 F-22s, far short of the number originally envisioned. But as China and Russia continue to modernize their forces and the Defense Department is reorienting itself to fight advanced adversaries, lawmakers have tasked the Air Force to take another look at what would be required to restart Raptor production and significantly beef up the inventory.
During a press conference following a visit to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Carter was asked about the idea being floated by members of Congress.
“I’m concerned” that it could take money away from other high priority programs, he said. “Restarting the F-22 — that’s an inefficient way to proceed. It’s not something the Air Force has recommended to me.”
The Pentagon is currently focused on improving the Raptors that it already has, he said.
“We value the F-22s we have,” Carter said. “We’re busy upgrading them and making sure that their avionics and so forth are state of the art. But we don’t need to restart the F-22 line.”
The House Armed Services Committee has asked the Air Force to produce a study on what it would take to revive the F-22 production line, which was shut down in 2012.