THE BLOG
04/06/2009 05:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Save the Pitiful F-22

If there's one thing that makes me madder than pork-filled make-work programs, it's shadowy netroots pressure groups that just want to get rich off big government. Who's with me?

Which is why that anonymous "Protect American Jobs / Save the F-22 Raptor" ads on Drudge -- and every other political website to the right of LOLcats -- make my free market blood boil. Someone is spending a lot of money to gin up a petition to save history's most expensive fighter plane. I'll bet it's ACORN.

Actually, I don't know who preserveraptorjobs.com is, and they're not saying, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they turned out to be Lockheed-Martin.

Lockheed-Martin builds the F-22, a plane designed in the early 90s to fight the planes the Soviet Union didn't build in the late 80s. We've spent $65 billion dollars on it and it's never fired a shot in anger. President Obama has until March 1st to buy more or shut it down.

Whoever preserveraptorjobs.com is, they've got deep pockets. Their ad seems to pop up beside every online news story that even mentions the Raptor, which can't be cheap, but then, neither is freedom.

Did I say freedom? I meant JOBS! Read the ad: The F-22 is all about JOBS! "American jobs." "Specialized jobs." "Well-paying American jobs." "Well-paying specialized American jobs." Forget what the plane does -- or in the F-22's case, doesn't do -- the government's job is to give people jobs! They can take our lives, but that can't take away our JOOOOOOOOBBBBS!!! Sign this petition.

Yours,
John Maynard Keynes
c/o The Military Industrial Complex

Here's some of the ad:

Act Now!

Production of the world's most advanced fighter aircraft, the F-22 Raptor, is in jeopardy. Your help is needed to urge the Obama Administration to save more than 95,000 American jobs and more than $12 billion in national economic activity.

Ask Questions Later!
There's no source given for either of these numbers. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 647,000 people work in industries where at least a fifth of the products are related to defense production, which would mean that roughly one out of seven Americans who work in the defense industry works on the Raptor. This is unlikely.

Last month, in a letter to Obama from 44 Senators arguing for more Raptor money, the number of jobs was only 25,000. I guess they've been hiring. Maybe they're working on the website.

Keeping the production line of this model aerospace program open is not another bailout; rather, it simply requires that the new administration release funds already authorized by Congress to continue a successful program.

This is the kind of slippery copywriting that's probably more appropriate for the Franklin Mint than public policy. (You pay nothing. We simply release funds already authorized from your MasterCard.) And it's not a bailout because we say so. And what does "successful program" mean in the context of a plane that's never been used? It takes off and lands. Is that a success? I flew to Syracuse for New Year's; am I a success?

By law, President-elect Obama must decide whether to continue the Raptor program during his first weeks in office. Please sign the petition to send the message to Congress that Obama must approve continuing the Raptor program, and send a letter to the White House urging the Administration to preserve F-22 Raptor production to protect American jobs, our economy, and national security!

Over seven trillionty-gillion jobs are at stake.

--

The worst thing about trying to sell the Raptor as a welfare program is that the plane has so many other things going for it.

Even though it's the biggest, fattest, heaviest fighter plane ever made, it's surprisingly nimble. Or maybe it's just surprising that it flies at all.

It's made out of titanium and carbon-fiber composites, and employs a "honeycomb sandwich construction" for its skin panels, which sounds delicious.

It's built with super-secret stealth technology. The F-22 is invisible to radar, except when it switches on its radar to aim its weapons, opens its bomb bay to fire them, or turns.

Subsystems for the F-22 Raptor are made in 44 states. Its wings are made in Seattle. Its engines are made in Connecticut. It's assembled by Lockheed Martin in Georgia and Texas. After Lockheed stopped making its previous stealth fighter, the F-117, in Burbank, it paid $33 million dollars for exposing workers to toxic solvents, epoxies and primers. It paid $60 million to city residents for poisoning their drinking water and $265 million to remove perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene that leached into the groundwater and soil. So you can't really say the communities that make the Raptor will have nothing to show for it. They may have kidney problems, brain damage and cancer.

Finally, there's a perfectly good reason the Raptor has never been to Iraq, and it's not because it's a useless fat turd. You're thinking of Jonah Goldberg. The reason we've never used the Raptor in Iraq is it doesn't work in places where there are wars.

According to Aviation Week & Space Technology, there's just too much radio interference. To quote the man in charge of Air Combat Command, Gen. Ronald E. Keys:

"We didn't anticipate there was going to be this level of jamming. Every patrol is out there with personal jammers. We've got lots of airplanes that are also jamming. At the same time, we've got people trying to listen [to insurgent conversations], a lot of it on the same or overlapping frequencies."

The jammers he's talking about are the ones the troops use to disable roadside IEDs. So the F-22, at $351 million a pop, is an excellent plane; it just doesn't work over a battlefield where one side is using booby traps activated by TV remotes and electronic garage door openers.

So Iraq is out. And anyplace else with TVs, radios and cars.

Also according to Aviation Week:

(A) possible vulnerability in the stealth fighter's legendary electronic surveillance system--located in the leading edges of the wings and vertical tails--became apparent during operations by the first operational squadron flying in the Chesapeake Bay area. The strong radars on nearby Navy ships were overwhelming the delicate sensors.

So it also doesn't work around warships.

I take it back. Maybe they should emphasize the jobs.