RAPTOR READY FOR WAR -- MAYBE

raptor_shadow.jpgThe controversial F/A-22 "Raptor" stealth fighter "is months away from being declared war-ready, but the Pentagon is still trying to decide where it fits in its vision of future warfare," observes the Washington Post. (In a related video, a Raptor squadron commander says his group will be ready to fight in December of '05.)

The Bush administration has proposed cutting $10 billion from the program over the next five years, leaving enough to buy fewer than half the 381 planes the Air Force says it needs. And the plane will have to compete, in an age of budget deficits, with plans to refurbish the Army and fund an even more expensive fighter program, the Joint Strike Fighter, which is still years from delivery.How many Raptors the Pentagon buys -- no one expects the program to be killed -- is part of a debate over what kind of wars the nation's leaders should fear most: a large-scale battle with another industrial power, where the Raptor could dominate, or skirmishes in rogue states such as Iran or Syria, where ground forces would lead. (via Sploid)
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