A recent Senate vote killed the construction of new F-22’s. Like all successful military contracts, the F-22 is built in dozens of states so that Senators from those states are too frightened to vote it down. The F-22, to it’s credit in survivability achievement, is built in 46 different states.
In an unusually transparent debate, Senators in favor of the plane trotted out fatuous lies that seemed to be penned by defense contractors. These were easily refuted by other Senators using simple logic. The debate was not along party lines. If you had an F-22 contractor in your state, you were for the new planes. If not, then you weren’t.
A telling quote from a retired Air Force general said that no US solider has been killed by an enemy aircraft since 1951. Somehow, the Senate took another look at this plane, and another look at how they do business, and agreed that the country shouldn’t spend precious dollars on a plane that it didn’t need. The vote was 58-40 as well, not a squeaker but a definite statement.
The vote might also mark the beginning of a new phase in defense politics, a scaling-back of the influence that defense contractors have over budgets and policies.
This is something new in Washington. I hope we see more of this kind of thinking.