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The Fight For the F-22

Wednesday, April 8, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

From an industry insider:

The press likes to throw around the current production number of 187 jets as “enough” for future combat operations. Typically, they miss a lot with that number. Assuming all 187 contracted jets are built, nowhere near that number will ever be combat aircraft. Two have been lost in crashes (the one last month tragically taking the life of the pilot), and four or five of the early production jets have been retired from service. Another dozen or so are committed to flight test for their service lives, and the 27 training jets at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida will never see combat unless the US is invaded. That leaves about 140 F-22’s spread out across only six squadrons (two each at Langley AFB, Elmendorf AFB, and Holloman AFB). No fighter jet (no aircraft, for that matter) is 100% available 100% of the time. Given a very optimistic 80% availability rate (which would be high for any fighter), that would give you at best 112 Raptors to go to war with–and that would leave the entire rest of the world undefended. Compare that to the current fleet of about 400 F-15C’s (the jet the F-22 was built to replace) and you get some idea of how small that number really is.

It’s very, very difficult to properly advocate for a jet whose actual capabilities are classified (and for good reason), but here’s a true story about the Raptor that I am able to pass along. Five or six years ago, there was a flight test “fight” planned at Edwards AFB involving two F-22’s vs. six F-15’s. The Eagles were flown out of Nellis AFB in Nevada, by instructors at the Fighter Weapons School, which is the Air Force’s equivalent to the Naval Top Gun school. In other words, those six pilots were among the very best fighter jocks in the world, flying the then-current all-time champion fighter (combat record: 104 kills, no losses).

The morning of the test, one of the two F-22’s took off, but the other one had to ground abort for a mechanical problem. They couldn’t conduct the actual test as planned, but the Raptor pilot suggested that they go ahead and run the test scenario “for practice.”

Ten minutes later, that F-22 was the only “live” jet left in the sky. Not one of the Eagles even got a shot off, and all of them were declared “dead” by the test officials. Bear in mind, this was early in the decade, when the Raptor’s avionics systems and software were still in development, and nowhere near as stable and capable as they are today. That doesn’t say everything you need to know about the F-22, but it does say a lot.

The U.S. has a weapon far superior to anything the rest of the world has. It is useful as a deterrent to war as much as it is a weapon of war. Why we would short-change our defense for a cost of perhaps $60 billion in an era of trillion dollar deficits is mind-boggling.

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Rick Warren and the Church in America

Tuesday, April 7, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
Rick Warren was my guest in hour three of today’s program, and he generously agreed to stay after the broadcast and tape another long interview which will air this Friday –Good Friday– which focuses on the Church in America. The transcript of today’s show will be posted later tonight here, and the podcast here. Friday’s conversation is centered on the mission of the American Church. Rick’s new magazine, The Purpose Driven Connection, is intended to serve the Church both at home through its small group ministry, and in inspiring it to go abroad with a reformed and revitalized sense of mission.

Speaking of mission, here’s an e-mail in response to yesterday’s conversation with two leaders from Amor Ministries, which has seen a huge drop-off in students willing to spend spring break in Mexico building houses for the poor:

Hugh, Thank you for your “plug” for Amor and for the safety of those who labor on behalf of their housing ministry. The youth and adults from my congregation here in Hawaii have built three homes with Amor (we try to go every other year). With Amor’s help I was able to dispel the fears and concerns that some of the youth’s parents had about their children’s safety when we took out trip last summer. That concern almost scuttled the trip. But we went, a house was built and lives in Mexico and lives in Hawaii were changed for the better. I can think of few transformational mission opportunities that carry more “bang for the buck” than working with Amor Ministries. The security they provide is more than sufficient but it is hardly necessary in the areas served by Amor. Much of Mexico is corrupt, yes. But most of Mexico is safe and full of honest, good and hard-working people . . . including the neighborhoods served by Amor. There are, of course, places to avoid but Amor is not in close proximity to any of them. I plead with church groups everywhere: Take a stand! Don’t instil unnecessary fear into the hearts of our youth who are eager and ready to serve and to love their neighbors in an impoverished country next door to our own. Go to Mexico with Amor. Build a house so that a family waiting for your love can turn it into a home.
Aloha In Jesus, Jim Tweedie, Pastor, Mililani Presbyterian Church, Oahu, Hawaii

Saving The F-22

Tuesday, April 7, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The big news out of Secretary Gates’ proposed DoD budget was the announcement that F-22 production was going to be shut down. (The Washington Post story is here , the New York Times here, and the Wall Street Journal story here.)

As recently as December, the Times ran a story reporting that the Air Force wanted 60 more F-22s, and though the cost of the additional planes was estimated at $9 billion, in the era of trillion dollar deficits, that seems hardly the sort of expenditure that would cause a blink of an eye, especially given the number of jobs that will be lost if the plane’s production lines are shuttered.

Against the backdrop of wild spending and massive deficits, the Pentagon cuts are startling. The first mission of the federal government is the nation’s defense, and the president’s budget spends billions on unnecessary and wasted spending while taking the knife to the country’s weapons’ systems.

President Obama’s visit to Iraq is a welcome symbol of his commitment to preserving the hard-won peace there, but the military he is meeting with needs the weapons of the next generation to remain capable of winning on the battlefields where it fights. Americans are right to worry that a hollowing-out of the military has begun.

Will The Youth Vote Turn-Out?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

In the U.S. this past November, there wasn’t a surge in youth voting, though there was a decisive shift towards Obama among those who did turn out to vote.

Today the Washington Post reports on an expected surge in the youth vote in India after the Mumbai attacks. Key graph:

In past elections, India’s middle-class youths blew off voting as a waste of time. The country’s often-Kafkaesque bureaucracy exasperated them, as did politicians’ well-earned reputations for corruption and criminal behavior. But now, the same high-tech tools and toys of youth culture that help teenagers engage with one another are being used to expose the misdeeds of political leaders. In the past, police harassed young people when they massed for street demonstrations, but Indian youths now gather on Facebook or organize over text messaging, a powerful medium in India, where 385 million people own cellphones, according to the Cellular Operators Association of India.

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