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USAF BRASS: WE LOST, NOW PAY UP

It's happening. Already, the U.S. Air Force brass is trying to spin their pilots' defeats against Indian fighters into cash for two new controversial, budget-busting jets.As discussed yesterday, Indian flyboys in creaky Russian and French planes trumped their American adversaries 90 percent of the time during a recent exercise."We may not be as far ahead of the rest of the world as we thought we were," Gen. Hal M. Hornburg, the chief of Air Combat Command, told reporters.He then made a pitch (scroll down) for the troubled F/A-22 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Pentagon-watchers have called both planes money-hogs that the military can't afford during wartime."The jets are designed as stealth 'air-superiority' fighters planes whose main mission is to shoot down enemy planes... [But no] air force in the world, except perhaps those of Israel and France, could shoot down more than a few American non-stealth fighter planes in even a large, protracted dogfight (and most of those shoot-downs would be by dumb luck)," Slate's Fred Kaplan said last fall.Now, the Air Force has new ammunition to fire back at its fighter critics."We've taken air superiority for granted," Gen. Hornburg said.THERE'S MORE: How could refurbished Russian MiG-21 jets even be a threat to American fighters? "When you stuff them full of Israeli electronics, multi-function [air-to-air] radar, and a helmet-mounted sight for cueing its Python-3 missiles," said a Defense Tech pal in the USAF, pointing us to these two sites.He adds, "Now does that justify an F-22? Not on its own, but old Russian clunkers can be made over pretty nicely."AND MORE: Air power's dirty little secret is that the airframe pretty much doesn't matter these days," says Defense Tech reader JA. What it does is "provide mounting points for weapons, sensors and engine(s). The MiG-21's airframe is quite sufficient for acting as a placeholder for state of the art toys. To my way of thinking the USAF's Fighter Mafia has never made the case for the need for either the (A)/F-22 or A/(F)-35. Rumsfeld's failing has been in not bringing these overeducated idiots to heel."

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