Non Vivant News Wonks agree: F-22 Raptor an outmoded waste

Wonks agree: F-22 Raptor an outmoded waste

Looks like I’m not alone in calling out Mark Bowden for his feature touting the F-22 Raptor in the March issue of the Atlantic. Not long after, Slate’s Fred Kaplan was on it, taking Raptor boosters to task in general, but finding time to address Bowden’s article in particular best paper shredder.

It’s the most sophisticated argument I’ve read, but even he evades the main issues. He ignores the F-15’s AESA radar. He says nothing about the F-35, a lower-cost stealth fighter about to enter production. (It has problems, too, but if someone thinks more stealth planes are needed, the F-35 has about 75 percent of the F-22’s capabilities for about half the price.) Finally, in response to one blogger’s critique of his article, Bowden admits that, even in a war against a more sophisticated foe, we would still establish aerial dominance “with the current fleet of F-15s backed by a few F-22s”—187 F-22s are “a few”?

All this, even in spite of Kaplan’s own ode to another outmoded aircraft designed to face the now nonexistent Soviet threat. That even he sees through the hype is telling. He sinks Bowden’s other arguments quite well, too — especially involving the Cope India air exercises, which Bowden used to illustrate the waning dominance of US fourth-generation fighter jets. And Sam Roggeven, editor of the Lowy Institute for International Policy’s blog The Interpreter has doubts of his own.

I felt more than a little irresponsible suggesting Bowden is part of Lockheed-Martin’s massive astroturf PR effort to save the Raptor program, but I take some comfort in knowing ThinkProgress’s Matt Duss has the same reading of the situation. To the Atlantic’s credit, they may have run Bowden’s cherry-picked cheerleading without nearly the degree of critical editing it deserved, but they haven’t silenced dissent within the ranks. James Fallows has a great response with a lot of evidence that the Raptor isn’t everything its backers make it to be.

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