The F-22 Fights On

Photo courtesy of flickr user Rob Shenk via a Creative Commons license


You’ve got to hand it to defense contractor Lockheed Martin and its F-22 Raptor fighter jet: The much maligned, headline-grabbing plane will not go away.

The latest news on the F-22 beat is that the Senate is trying to sidestep a decade-old law to allow Lockheed to develop and export a version of the F-22 to be sold outside the US. On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to insert language in its 2010 defense spending bill allowing the DOD to “conduct or participate in studies, research, design and other activities to define and develop an export version of the F-22A.” Earlier last week, the same committee agreed to end F-22 production for domestic use at 187 planes after a protracted battle between the Obama administration and lawmakers in Congress on whether to extend the production run of F-22s or not. Lockheed also lobbied hard for continuing F-22 production by citing the number of jobs the plane created nationwide.

The provision, however, will face opposition in the House Appropriations Committee. The committee’s chair, Rep. David Obey (D-WI), authored the ban on exporting F-22s in 1998 for security reasons. According to Congress Daily, countries like Japan, Australia, and Israel are likely buyers for the export version of the F-22, which would not feature secret, US-specific technologies. While the Senate Appropriations Committee vote on exporting F-22s doesn’t outright repeal the ban, the full Senate will consider the idea when it reviews the entire defense spending bill this month. The F-22, it seems, just will not go quietly into the night.

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  • Andy Kroll

    Andy Kroll is an investigative reporter at Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here. Follow him on Twitter here. Send tips, scoops, and documents to akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com.