Beware of the Military-Industrial Complex

by Peter

28 September 2006, 1559 EDT

There are about 5 things I want to write about, maybe I’ll have the time to get to some of them this weekend– Iraq, the NIE (though Dan has a nice post on it), what in the world was Musharaf doing on the Daily Show….

But, I can’t resist yet another Defense Spending post….

This one from the F-22 files (and yes, its also an excuse to post a cool picture).
Congress just voted to buy way more planes than the Administration wants, adding Billions of dollars of defense expenditures to the budget when the Military already has heavy demands on its budget for weapons, personnel, and ongoing operations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and such. From the NYT:

Since coming into office, Mr. Rumsfeld and the administration have tried to rein in the costs of the $65 billion fighter jet program, which has been two decades in the making and has suffered one cost overrun after another.

But their efforts were rebuffed this week by the powerful F-22 lobby, a combination of the Air Force, Lockheed Martin, which makes the fighter jet, and their allies in Congress.

The Senate is scheduled to vote this week on the $447 billion Pentagon budget for 2007, which contains a measure promoted by backers of the F-22 that could extend the jet’s production run beyond its 2011 termination date and reduce Congressional oversight of the program.

Yes, its a way cool plane, flying faster, higher, stealthier, and with better avionics and arms than anything out there. But,

Critics say the F-22 represents technological overkill at a time when United States air superiority is unquestioned and the nature of warfare has changed. It was originally designed for aerial combat against the Soviets. Today, one of its biggest critics is the Government Accountability Office, which in July issued a report saying, “The F-22 acquisition history is a case study in increased cost and schedule inefficiencies.”

How useful has the F-22 (or the plane it replaces, the outstanding F-15) been in fighting terrorism, capturing Osama Bin Ladin, or bringing stability to Iraq? (yes, that’s a rhetorical question)– Not useful at all. Sure, it does some ground-pounding with smart bombs, but do we really need an F-22 for that? Its not like the Iraqi insurgents have radar to avoid, an AC-130 or A-10 can do close air support just as well (if not better).

But, what really gets me:

Another measure sought by F-22 supporters, the lifting of a ban on sales to foreign countries, easily passed the House in July on a voice vote but failed to make it out of a House-Senate conference committee. Backers of the measure said that overseas sales would help reduce the overall costs of the F-22 program.

Opponents fear that it would permit other nations to gain access to the Pentagon’s most advanced weaponry and technologies.

So, we build the plane to maintain air superiority, and then promptly sell it, and with it, sell our monopoly on stealthy air-dominance. Sure, we’ll sell to the UK, they’re our “special” friends, but just look at who has F-16 now– Pakistan, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia… Are you 100% certain that those planes won’t ever be used against US interests ever?

Yeah, watch out for that military industrial complex.

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