Merkley Statement on F-22 Program Funding

Washington, DC
– Today, Senator Merkley joined 57 members in
removing funding for the F-22 program from the National Defense Authorization
Act.  The funding would have amounted to $1.75 billion to be used to
construct seven additional planes.

Senator Merkley issued the following statement on the vote:

“As this vote approached, I
carefully weighed the arguments in favor and in opposition to the
program.  Ultimately, I found that the F-22 procurement program was no
longer serving our national security needs and should be ended so we can direct
our defense spending to mission-critical systems.


“Two key arguments arose in support
of continuing the F-22:  its relationship to Oregon jobs and its potential
relationship to the Oregon Air National Guard. 


“At the same time, a compelling
argument was made in opposition of the program.  Any weapons spending must
serve our national security needs.  On this key criterion, the F-22 falls
short.  President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, Secretary of the Air Force
Michael Donley, and Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Norton Schwartz
unanimously concluded that its production should be terminated. 


“The plane has never been deployed
in Iraq or Afghanistan; it has never met its target mission capability rate;
and cost overruns make continued per plane production more expensive than for
next generation F-35s.


“However, there are other factors
that must be addressed as well.  A number of F-22 parts are made in Oregon
and there is an argument to be made to support the F-22 production funding to
protect current jobs.  On the other hand, the Air Force expects to ramp up
production of the F-35 and Oregon has every expectation to get an equal or
better share of the contracts to produce parts for the F-35.  Meanwhile we
would be getting a better fighter at a lower cost.  Further, we have to
carefully examine if funds spent on the F-22 would be better spent on other
weapons systems or other national priorities (such as infrastructure
improvement or the development of clean energy) that would result in job


“Another major argument for
procuring additional F-22 fighters is that these fighters might eventually get
assigned to Air National Guard units, including the unit deployed in
Portland.  To accomplish this vision, however, another 60 planes would be
required at a cost of $15-20 billion.  Regardless of the prospects of this
year’s amendment, this additional procurement is extremely unlikely.  And
none of the seven planes produced this year under the unamended defense
authorization bill would be assigned to Oregon.  It is a better bet to
pursue the F-35 as an eventual replacement for the aging F-15 fighters based in


“It is always tempting to continue
current weapon procurement programs.  But when our top national security
advisers – including the leaders of the Pentagon and the Air Force – argue that
our national security is best served by terminating a program and investing in
new programs, we should listen carefully.”