The argument that more F-22s must be bought because it is is the only fighter that is truly effective against advanced surface to air missiles got shot down (sorry about the pun) here at the Paris Air Show by the top Joint Strike Fighter official Marine Brig. Gen David Heinz.
Advocates such as Rebecca Grant, an analyst at the Lexington Institute, argue that the F-22 is needed principally because it is the premier weapon against the sophisticated S-300 ground-to-air missiles that the Russians have developed and are trying to sell.
So I asked Heinz if the JSF could kill advanced SAMs. His answer: “While I will do the mission differently, I am still delivering first day of the war capability.”
We’ll see if that puts the nail in the coffin of the F-22 supporters or if there are good counter-arguments to this. Of course, Heinz is a fierce advocate for this program and must be expected to defend it, but he’s also known as a very straight shooter. If he did not believe the plane’s ability to handle the SAM threat I think we would have gotten a very different answer.
On the industrial base side of the program, Heinz told reporters here that the program could reasonably generate an astonishing 6,000 sales. He based his estimate on the 4,425 F-16s sold around the world in various development blocks, combined with 600 F-18 E/Fs and Typhoons. “As these airplanes aqe out, I believe my airplane will be competitive,” he said.
The United States and the eight foreign partners are expected to order about 3,100 planes. Add 1,000 sales to prospective buyers such as Israel, Singapore, Spain, Japan, Finland and South Korea. Then top up the rest of the world and you get to Heinz’ figure of 6,000.