Raptor Revival?


Republican hopeful Mitt Romney has added a new specific example for how he’d spend 4% of the GDP on defense: Restart production of the F-22 Raptor.

Romney made the statement in a one-on-one interview with a Virginia television station at the Military Aviation Museum, in which he reiterated past pledges to produce 15 ships per year rather than nine and add more than 100,000 active-duty military personnel to the force. But civilian military jobs would likely be lost. Romney is also pledging to reduce the size of the federal workforce by 10% through attrition.

Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation jet was canceled in 2009 by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates because of the jet’s expense. Wired’s Danger Room blog pegged the cost at somewhere between $137 million and $678 million per jet, depending on how you count the cost of development and iterative upgrades.

Just restarting the line would run the government $900 million, DoD Buzz reports.

Aside from the cost, restarting the line would mean resolving the F-22’s ongoing problems with its pilots experiencing “hypoxia-like” symptoms and what is becoming known as “Raptor cough.” The administration will be giving its side of the story this week before the House Armed Services Committee.

At the center-left Brookings Institution Sept. 10, defense analysts outlined the key differences between Obama and Romney on defense. In addition to the number of troops and ships, Romney also favors reversing the administration’s focus on theater missile defense and the phased adaptive approach to defending Europe, instead favoring a return to Boeing’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense System, according to Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Marvin Kalb, former moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, suggests that the real difference between the two is that Obama will try to reach out and work with allies, while Romney would attempt “to be muscular and let others ooh and ahh.”

The F-22 decision is another data point in that direction. Does it win him votes?

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