With Collapse of S-300 Sale is F-22 Irrelevant?

AFP reported late yesterday the Russians had finally backed down to international pressure and cancelled their planned sale of the S-300 4th gen fighter killing surface to air missile system.

As DT readers well know, the Russians have been playing brinksmanship on this deal for more than a decade and for about twenty years, the Air Force has been using Moscow's threat Cold-War-style to justify the development of the F-22 Raptor and to argue for a large buy.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said in June that U.N. sanctions would not affect Russia's S-300 missile supplies to Iran, saying that the missiles were "defensive weapons" that did not fall under the terms of the sanctions.Russia agreed the missile deal several years ago but has never delivered the weapons amid pressure from the U.S. and Israel, which fear they would dramatically improve Iran's defensive capabilities.In June, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Moscow would not sell the missiles to Iran in line with U.N. sanctions, a French official told reporters on the condition of anonymity at the time.

An aide to President Dmitry Medvedev said in June that the S-300 missile deal would likely be scrapped, but that a formal decision would come in a decree.

But with the cancellation of the sale, is there a near-term threat that justifies the F-22 specifically and stealth techology (read F-35) in general? Sure, the fact that the S-300 exists and is purported to be a killer of anything but the Raptor is clearly a theoretical threat. But the Air Force had been using the Iran sale as a card to play against reactionary Raptor haters. Now that card is gone.

The Army always likes to excuse their lack of progress in fielding a successor to the M16/M4 platform by saying they're waiting for a "technology leap" or a new generation of firearms (like the XM-25). But with the fizzled S-300 sale, it looks as if it's not the Raptor that skipped a generation, the generations skipped it.

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