• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Dragon Week: U.S. Air Capabilities at Risk

    Secretary of Defense Robert Gates just returned from a visit to China after the recent restoration of military ties between the two countries. While he was there, China’s military leaders unveiled a new stealth fighter jet.

    The Chengdu J-20 prototype of a future stealth fifth-generation multirole aircraft clearly caught the attention of U.S. defense officials. Secretary Gates told reporters that the Chinese “clearly have potential to put some of our capabilities at risk,” and while the U.S. military has known that China sought a stealth fighter, the J-20’s development outpaced intelligence estimates.

    As China builds up its military at a breakneck pace, the traditional margins of U.S. technological military superiority are declining across the board. These long-held “margins” are ingredients in U.S. military supremacy that have ensured that our forces are never in a fair fight.

    Our most capable fighters—the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter—are outstanding, but the Pentagon is not planning to buy enough of either. For the first time in history, the U.S. military has no manned aircraft under development. The highly skilled defense workforce that designs and builds these superior fighters is at risk. While the U.S. has only one fifth-generation fighter in production today, China and Russia have a combined twelve fighter and bomber lines open for business.

    The modernization plans of all the armed forces to replace their legacy fleets with next-generation equipment have been dramatically cut the past two years, most notably the U.S. Air Force. These cuts will further reduce the U.S. military technological edge against defense investments by other countries. That doesn’t mean the United States will necessarily be fighting some peer competitor that may not exist today. Rather, what Washington chooses to invest or not invest in will provide incentive for others to build up where the United States is pulling back.

    Congress must ensure that the U.S. military acquires adequate numbers of fifth-generation fighters in order to give tomorrow’s forces the same air supremacy that has ensured that no single soldier or Marine has lost his life due to a threat from the air in over a half-century.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Dragon Week: U.S. Air Capabilities at Risk

    1. Craig, Greenville, S says:

      It now appears ending F22 production was ill timed and it is very costly to end production and disassemble the assembly process. The politically motivated decision was seen as cost savings when it was put forth. It will now be very costly to re-start the F22 production once it is acceptable to admit the error. The F35 is not a replacement for the F22, two totally different capabilities.

    2. George Colgrove, VA says:

      “For the first time in history, the U.S. military has no manned aircraft under development.”

      No because the DoD in the same fashion as the rest of the federal government are more interested in spending taxpayer money on their pet projects and their personal needs over that of the country. Money that could be used for jets, ships or defense systems are being dumped on worthless and costly projects. There seems to be no priorities with our tax dollars.

      Case in point, the BRAC at the Mark Center.

      The BRAC legislation required the DoD to consolidate operations to fewer buildings and locations. There are hundreds of vacant buildings in the DC area. The DoD did not need to build a new building to complete this consolidation, it could have moved into existing buildings it bought. However, what they did was a fiscal atrocity. With total disregard to the taxpayer, the DoD decided to build many brand new costly buildings.

      The BRAC at the Mark Center is one of those buildings. It will seize traffic in the Mark Center Area when it becomes occupied later this year. American Citizens and Taxpayers in that small-congested area will have to suffer the Omnipresence of the federal government in their morning and afternoon commutes. The idea for this project is to shove 6400 federal employees working for the Defense Department’s Administrative division “WHS” into the newest most luxurious and spacious secured building in the United States. There are rumblings that it is already undersized, over budget and over schedule. In the early 2000’s the facility was slated to occupy already constructed edifices in the Alexandria or Springfield areas – some already owned by the federal government. Research on the excessively lean information provided by the DoD suggests that the Mark Center was a last minute choice and that much of the impact assessments were incorrect. Since last November, there has been increasing interest in stopping the progress on this behemoth federal project that was originally supposed to cost us taxpayers $700 million (50% of the missile defense system that was recently canceled.)

      It would not surprise me that once all the impact assessment studies, scoping, planning construction, cost increases, additional traffic accommodations, that this project will cost the Taxpayers over a billion dollars – to house 6400 federal employees in a cushy spacious office complex. That is a cost of up to $160,000 per federal employee – not including ongoing maintenance and building administration costs. The DoD does not make money so this money will never be recouped. It is gone. Nor could this building be ever sold for what it was built for. This building represents total and complete waste.

      Recent additional traffic modifications are slated to be complete by mid to late 2012. This means the locals will need to suffer 6400 additional federal workers and construction in an already congested area for a year after the building is occupied. Traffic will also be significantly impacted as far out to Quincy Ave, and already congested Leesburg Pike.

      Regardless where this project goes, a full investigation needs to start by a non-federal investigation team on how this project ever got started and how it got to this point – and people need to be prosecuted. The building is so ill placed that corruption is the only answer why such a horrible decision was made.


      A GSA Warehouse in Springfield. Not sure what this space is, so I have no comment, other than it would have been FREE to start with. It may very well needed interior updates but probably not to the tune of $700 billion! Springfield is also a traffic-congested area so it may not have been a good idea to put that many people in there. However, the building is supposed to be within walking distance to the Springfield Metro Blue line – a direct line to the Pentagon!

      Victory Center – 5001 Eisenhower Ave. It has 1 million sq. ft approved office space – currently offering 600,000 sq ft. It is currently ready for people to move in. It has been vacant for quite a few years now. It has two large parking lots and I am sure it could be bought for a very low price at this point in this economy. It is within a five-minute walk from the Van Dorn Metro Stop. It is within a stone’s throw of two beltway intersections on a highway that has very low traffic. It is only a few more minutes away from the Pentagon than the Mark Center is. Moreover, is on the direct metro blue line to the Pentagon. It is just down the street from the Hoffman center – another DoD outpost. If you dedicate 30% if the floor space to halls, file rooms, high officials office spaces and meeting spaces, that leaves 420,000 sq feet of personnel space. If the federal employees could stand to work in a typical 8×8 cubicle like nearly all the private sector and state government employees have to do, the remaining space can hold up to over 6500 federal workers – in the already constructed building! That building as it stands could hold the entire 6400 or more federal employees slated to clog up the Mark Center. In addition, the plans for an additional 400,000 sq ft and parking garages are already approved. Why this building was not chosen escapes me. Except that corruption may have been a factor. The sad thing is that this building could have been occupied years ago.

      As for high-level security, if the DoD would just reevaluate its costly need to have nearly every DoD employee have high level security clearances and perhaps restructure its classified information distribution so that 90% of the DoD employees can work in a declassified environment much like a typical cost effective business office environment would be, this building would be perfect. The building already is advertized to be DoD Security ready and has all the clear zones required by the DoD. It may not be as an intriguing or as a sexy work environment as the luxurious and spacious Mark Center building will be, but it will be frugal – which is what we expect from the federal government.

      The BRAC at the Mark Center is almost done, so I say just populate it with personnel that absolutely need high-level security. Do not finish and block off the floors that will not be occupied. This building should be housing the entire DoD declassification program. It should be very limited and focused to declassifying material needed by the rest of the federal government. Parts of this program are already slated to occupy this building. Rather than take up space for people, use that space to house all the documents that need protection. Documents do not travel! People with direct experience with the subject matter by training, field experience, and education should be working there. The vast majority of the administrative staff slated to work there should do so at the Victory Center in a cost effective standard business office environment. The Victory center should be a low risk work environment – both for the employee and our national secrets which federal employees seem so willing to hand over as of late.

      As traffic provisions are improved at the Mark Center, then the BRAC facility could take on more high-level security positions throughout the DoD. Nevertheless, I am afraid as if now, the building is a failure and other contingencies need to be considered. It cannot be occupied as planned. It will destroy the area and the costs to fix the problems are currently prohibitive. The citizens at the Mark Center who pay dearly for the waste that goes on in the DoD and the rest of the federal government will be permanently paralyzed by the results of this project. Whatever happened to the military mission-critical thinking? Whatever happened to the mantra that they are working for the people? I just do not see it with projects like this and much of everything else that comes out of the federal government. The choice should have been a no-brainer.

      Oh, I have yet to mention the waste that occurred at the end of Constitution Ave. The U.S. Institute of Peace. That building will occupy more air than office space. It is a vast open glassed in space with one layer of small closed offices on three parameter walls. Therefore, it does not matter whether it is war or peace; we are paying dearly for these frivolous projects as if the federal workforce has nothing better to do.

    3. Corky, Howey in the says:

      What a crying shame that We the People have allowed our administration to cut back on our Military. Can obama Honestly believe that by us cutting bach our military, that Russia and China would do the same? Can't the people of this Country see what is going on? IF you don't wake up soon you WILL be living without freedom!….

    4. Henry J Cobb, Pachec says:

      "China and Russia have a combined twelve fighter and bomber lines open for business."

      None of which are fifth generation of course. So in those terms can we count the tail end of the F-22 line, the start of the F-35 line and the continuing production of Super Hornets, all of which are far ahead of the Russians and Chinese in electronics.

      For one example, the United States has hundreds of combat ready AESA equipped jet fighters flying today while the Russians and Chinese have a total of zero.

      We do not need more F-22s for use against China, because we gave up our nearby bases in the Philippines. So we have no parking spaces in our bases to operate more F-22s from.

      What we do need are long range next generation bombers. Thankfully this program is finally back on track.

    5. Pingback: Tweets that mention Dragon Week: U.S. Air Capabilities at Risk | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    6. Matt, Colo Springs, says:

      Thank you Heritage for pulling back the curtain to reveal truth for us.

      This is disgusting, absolutely disgusting. America is the best, period. We are not good, we are not great, we are the best. We've allowed ourselves to be steered away from the charted course from the Founding Fathers…but we are waking up.

      Defense MUST be put at the forefront. Bring back the F-22 and F-35. Put Northrup Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed back in business! Lift regulations and repeal Obama(doesn't)care and allow the free thinking to flood the marketplace (and someone will come up with ideas BETTER than the usual contractors) so that we lead the way again!

      Build physical walls, arm and grant permission to Border Patrol to protect our borders (north and south), repair and maintain our defense posts (domestically and internationally) and give our armed forces the tools they need to protect us.

      I'm sick & tired of where my tax dollars are being shuffled and how inefficiently they are squandered away. I'm tired of the censorship and oppression that they are slowly marching upon us. Bit by bit, hoping that we won't notice the water temp slowly heading towards boiling.

      Again, thank you Heritage…you guys and gals ROCK!

    7. Scott Carver says:

      What ever happened to the United States being the "greatest military force on the planet"?

      There's an old saying; goes something like this. "It's better to have it and never need it, then to need it and not have it." We NEED to rebuild our military infrastructure. We need to allow our free markets to design and manufacture the most high-tech, precise, and destructive military technology on the face of the planet, and we need to keep it for ourselves. We need to rebuild our naval fleet with modern ships and weapons, and we need to create a Land/Sea/Air force that is FEARED and RESPECTED by other nations.

      America is suppose to lead by example. But all our current government has done is bow down and grovel before other countries in an effort to "make them like us". We don't need other countries to like us…. We need them to respect us, and to fear the consequences of pissing us off.

    8. George Colgrove, VA says:

      We have no priorities in the federal government.

      One F-22 supposingly costs $143 million. This is the hardware cost, including research and operating costs can top $300 million for the life of the jet.

      It would take the pay of 1200 federal employees to pay for one jet @ $143 a pop. A reduction of 10% of the DoD civilian workforce would cover 33 jets or 16 jets at full operational costs!

      A overall reduction of the DoD budget by an across the board federal budget 10% cut would provide funding to buy 490 jets or 230 at full operational costs!

      Wasteful building projects: The Controversial BRAC at the Mark Center initial cost estimate would have covered buying almost 5 jets or 2 jets at full operational costs. If all overruns and associated post award recovery costs tops a billion, then that BRAC costs would have covered buying 7 jets or 3 jets at operational costs.

      The Heritage Foundation has shown that the DoD can cut about $50 billion from the budget by improving logistics, getting rid of waste, inefficiencies, overlapping functions and redundancies. That could cover up to 350 jets or 160 jets at full operational costs.

      Every dollar cut from non-military costs in the DoD the budget is one dollar closer to getting the necessary hardware for our soldiers. The above items are not chump change.

      How about this, the high-end design and construction of the useless Kumbyya United States Institute of Peace open space structure would have provided funding to buy one jet.

      The bottom line, we can afford to get as many of these jets if we focus on eliminating waste, overlap, and redundancy in the ranks of the DoD. If we eliminate ALL non constitutional functions in the federal government, and ALL frivoulous projects we can get our soldiers what they need. We can do that in five years as proposed, but it will take even longer to get this needed hardware inthe field. If we take a wartime approach to cutting cost and get this stuff done now, then we can get stocked up within a two year period. It just depends on what the priorities are. The DoD from the outside is looking more like a jobs creation program than a defense department.

    9. Pete, Carson City, N says:

      All of this is part of the administration's plan to ensure that America becomes a third world country as soon as possible,

    10. Spiritof76, NH says:

      The article did not mention that the Chinese have deployed carrier killer missiles. In addition, they have claimed just about the whole of the South China Sea under their domain. Translation-passage by the US Navy through the South China Sea will more or less require their permission. They have been harassing the US naval vessels in that area with impunity.

      Before we go toe to toe with them on F22 and F35, we need to understand what the US will do to counter the Chinese influence in N.Korea and Taiwan. What would be our response if China made a move to occupy Taiwan? I doubt we will do anything. We also must ask how is it that they have gained so much ground in aerospace and misslile technologies. Mr. Clinton allowed export of missile technology and the super computer. In other words, we set them up and perhaps we continue to do so. So, where would we use F22 and F35 against the Chinese or their surrogates?

      The US is in the same position as the USSR was when Ronald Regan ramped up military build up and the Soviets realized that they could not compete due to their economic weakness. Our government spending is a mess and the economy is being destroyed in the name of "fairness" and "social justice". Chinese have ramped up their defense spending in the last 20 years while the US defense spending has remained relatively flat. We can not simpy afford it.

    11. Philip Kantor, Memph says:

      I am a 90-year old veteran of World War II, having served in the 5th, 8th, 10th and 20th Armored Divisions. Based upon my experience and knowledge, I am well aware of the importance of our country having air superiority over any potential adversary. I much prefer that we spend availabile funds on superior aircraft and other apppropriate military resources rather than on federal real estate, especially in view of the volume of vacant buildings described hereinabove. We cannot win a war with a building, no matter how fancy it may be.

      In reference to the construction costs described herein, I am concerned that the contracts for the projects may not have been awarded at costs based upon public openings of competitive sealed bids.

      With recognition of our current economy, and upon due consideration of the welfare of our future generations, our Congress should impose a moratorium for a reasonable term on the construction of any new federal office buildings, and thereafter, such being subject to a sources and uses basis.

    12. Harry Snyder Tempera says:

      The stop-production policy of the the F-22 of Gates, et al, is very worrisome.

      What if some genius at the 1941 War Department had decided that we "couldn't afford" the P-38 and/or the P-51 fighters?? Or the expensive and perhaps redundant B-24?? The great depression had not ended by 1941 and the welfare programs were very expensive–and necessary (I was there). Or that we should limit the P-38 or the P-51 to 200 planes??

      It scares me to death that Defense (Gates et al) are so stupid or wrong minded about the vital interests of the U.S. And that they are weakening out defense establishment deliberately is even more frightening. This situation needs to be examined very thoroughly, and pressure put on Defense to rethink their policies.

    13. Harry Snyder Tempera says:

      Perhaps "Pete of Carson City. NV has hit on the real policy……….

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.