Air Force needs F-22 to preserve aerial dominanceGiven the...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 08, 1999

Air Force needs F-22 to preserve aerial dominance

Given the tone of The Sun's three-part series calling into question the value of the Air Force's F-22 Raptor (July 18-20), readers could conclude that this program is just another waste of taxpayer dollars.

But, in fact, the F-22 is of vital importance to this nation and its allies as we approach a new and unstable century.

Post-Vietnam history argues powerfully that we develop the right aircraft for the right missions: Air Force-developed F-15 and F-16 fighters have shot down more than 100 opponents without sustaining a single loss from an enemy fighter.

But, as good as they are, these planes are more than a quarter-century old. Newer fighter aircraft now match their performance and promise to exceed it.

The qualitative edge we have traditionally enjoyed is being steadily eroded.

The Air Force flies fighters to both control the air and attack enemy forces -- ensuring that our soldiers, sailors and Marines need never fear a rampaging enemy air force or army.

We've been very successful at this because we have never accepted just being marginally better than our opponents.

It takes more than a decade to develop a new fighter, so it is imperative we make the right choice.

Today, the true hallmarks of a dominant fighter are the ability to evade and/or minimize detection (stealth), transit threat areas quickly (supercruise), and exploit information warfare to reach quicker than ones foes (sensor fusion).

Only the F-22 can do this. At a cost of $84.7 million per aircraft, the F-22's unique capabilities make it the most cost-effective means of achieving the air dominance American forces will need.

It's time to get it in service.

Richard P. Hallion

Washington

The writer is the historian of the United States Air Force.

An expensive plane in search of an enemy

I read with interest the series by The Sun's Greg Schneider on the F-22 Raptor. It was informative and thought provoking. Few of us taxpayers have any idea how our taxes are spent.

Generally, I am grateful for the services government provides.

However, when I think of the billions of dollars the Pentagon wants to spend for this project -- a plane designed to face a threat that no longer exists, a purchase that will only fill the coffers of defense contractors -- I wish that the United States would instead pay the more than $1 billion we owe the United Nations.

Perhaps that would do more for our security than all the high-tech weapons we can dream up.

If the Raptor becomes a reality, will we then go in search of another enemy on which to test it?

Phyllis S. Yingling

Baltimore

Why is U.S. paying for a NATO mistake?

It was my understanding that the bombings in Yugoslavia were NATO bombings.

Why then must the United States make payments to China ("U.S. to pay Chinese in embassy bombing," July 31) for the error in NATO targets?

Alban R. Clautice

Baltimore

GOP's tax cuts aren't sound economic policy

In response to Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s letter "GOPs tax cuts can save us money, won't hurt retirees" (July 31), I'd note that I'm sure a tax cut resonates with taxpayers like candy would to children. But as adults we must forgo this temptation and do the responsible thing.

The surplus that the Republicans want to give back is really borrowed money because our national debt is more than $4 trillion.

In bad times, it may be good to use debt to stimulate the economy. But in good times, most economists want to pay down the debt.

When the government holds so much debt it chokes off capital that could be lent to business and individuals.

Therefore, as Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan acknowledged, it is better to pay down the debt.

Unlike the gimmick of tax cuts, more available capital can have such direct effects as lower mortgage rates and lower-rate loans available to businesses. This could create more and better jobs.

Mr. Ehrlich and the Republicans know this. They are playing games with the American people trying to get more votes in the next election, knowing that President Clinton will veto their plan.

Leadership requires taking unpopular stands when necessary. I do not see Mr. Ehrlich or the Republicans doing the responsible thing at this time.

Thomas E. Quirk

Cockeysville

Tax cut posturing doesn't benefit anyone

It's ridiculous to see representatives from both parties posturing instead of determining the best use of a trillion dollar federal budget surplus. Some of them appear more interested in hurting the other party politically than helping the American people economically.

Everyone agrees that taxes should be reduced, but first there should be debate about where and how federal monies should be spent. That would make it easier to quantify possible future surpluses and then decide the amount and allocation of a tax cut.

What Congress should be debating at this point is how to maintain long-term economic health. Because people can and do disagree, compromise will be needed.

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