The Right Fighter for the Twenty-first Century?
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The Quadrennial Defense Review of 1997 may have reaf - firmed the need for all three major aircraft modernization programs—the F-22, F/A-18E/F, and Joint Strike Fighter— but the debate is far from over. The F-22, the most expensive of the three programs, stands out as a lucrative target for budget cutters. Critics are quick to point out that the F-22 was designed during the cold war to defend the North Atlan - tic Treaty Organization airspace against the Warsaw Pact’s numerical superiority. With the cold war long over and the Soviet Union relegated to history, many experts question whether the F-22 is still necessary. They point to the United States’s overwhelming dominance in the Persian Gulf War using F-15Cs as evidence. F-22 proponents counter that the world is still a very dangerous place, and the United States needs the F-22 to ensure air superiority. In this study Lt Col Michael J. Costigan, USAF, takes a critical look at the F-22 and its role in our military strategy in the twenty-first century. Although the Soviet Union is gone, the United States may well face regional adversaries who will enjoy numerical superiority while the United States deploys its forces. Use of chemical or biological weapons could slow our deployment considerably while forcing other friendly as - sets in theater to disperse, further limiting their effectiveness.
In this scenario, the argument for the F-22 becomes more compelling. Its innovative technologies provide the F-22 with supercruise, stealth, and integrated avionics, and enable it to guarantee the air superiority so necessary to victory. I en - courage each of you to read this review of the aircraft that is planned to form the cornerstone of the US Air Force’s air superiority mission in the twenty-first century.
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