Air Force chief of staff Gen. John Jumper has been working overtime, ever since the F/A-22 "Raptor" stealth fighter program got slashed by the Pentagon leadership. First, he flew one of the jets himself, at nearly Mach 2, to show off how cool the Raptor really was. Then, he had a team of F/A-22s buzz by the Super Bowl.Now, according to Inside Defense, he's telling "lawmakers that the U.S. military's ability to dominate the skies may be threatened by a Russian aircraft that has not yet been built, and which aerospace analysts believe may never fly."
Gen. Jumper... warned the design for the Sukhoi 40 is on the boards right now, in a Feb. 8 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.Defense analysts said Jumper was referring to Russia's plans for a fifth-generation fighter that is to replace the Su-27 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum. A design for this new fighter aircraft program, known as the PAK FA, is being crafted with a prototype expected in 2006 and production beginning in 2010, according to a May 6, 2004, Aviation Week article.Aviation industry analysts, however, believe the enormous costs required to design and build such an aircraft... are beyond the means of the Russian government.Use of this fledgling Russian aircraft program to make the case for the F/A-22 raised the eyebrows of some analysts. One, who asked not to be named, called it a pitiful argument.THERE'S MORE: Over on the Defense Tech forum, reader NH mounts a strong, well-reasoned defense of the Raptor. Check it out.