Encouraging a good friend to drink and drive

This statement below has totally changed my position on Japan and the F-22.
Ex-chief systems engineer for the F-22 is “convinced that Japan can get fully equivalent capabilities in the areas of its needs at lower overall cost by other routes.”
And that for the US to recommend the F-22 to Japan is like encouraging a good friend to drink and drive.
NBR’S JAPAN FORUM (POL) F22s for Japan: more signals to North Korea?

But there are what I regard as more substantial reasons to question the
feasibility and desirability of purchasing the F-22 as well.
I say this recognizing very well the strength of Japanese desire for the aircraft. During a recent visit to Tokyo I had occasion to speak with a number of top air force officers as well as civilians involved in defense matters, and all made it clear that they feel Japan must have F-22s.
More than two decades ago, at the inception of the program, I was the chief systems engineer for the F-22 at Lockheed. That is to say that I know a great deal more about it than one can read in the press. There is no doubt that it is a very impressive airplane with no equal in the world.
It is also an extraordinarily expensive airplane. The 50 aircraft Japan needs would cost roughly $10 billion to buy (with spares and support equipment), and would have high ongoing operating costs. It is likely that any aircraft needing major repair or modification would have to be shipped back to the United States.
I am convinced that Japan can get fully equivalent capabilities in the areas of its needs at lower overall cost by other routes. I recognize that Japanese do not like to be told what they need by outsiders, but for the United States to encourage Japan to buy F-22s would be like encouraging a good friend to drink lots of alcohol before he sets out to drive home.

1 Comment on “Encouraging a good friend to drink and drive

  1. Hm. What else would they buy, and what do they need them to do?
    Assuming they actually want to outclass the air forces of the region (yeah, you know I mean China), I don’t think current versions of the F-15, F-16, or F-18 would cut it.
    That leaves probably either buying F-22s, Eurofighter Typhoons, or waiting for the F-35 to arrive.
    Each of those planes is designed for a slightly different role, but by all accounts the F-22 is, plane for plane, a far better air combat machine than the Typhoon. And Typhoons cost something like 65 million pounds, versus $140-180 million (depending on how you figure, and on what deal Japan could get).
    The F-35 might cost half that when it arrives, but I don’t know when Japan could get delivered fighters. There’s a long line of customers ahead of them.
    Any of these fightercraft may or may not do what Japan needs (all can bomb as well as do air combat), but it’s a question of what your requirements are and what package of aircraft meet those requirements.
    Fred Kaplan’s typically down-on-the-F-22 take in Slate is a good starting point, if only because he links to The Atlantic’s cheerleading article for that plane.
    There aren’t any really cheap fighter jets for sale, though.