Air Force corrects Washington Post smear

We learn now that the stalwart men and women of the press corps had repeated an outright falsehood and, until now, had successfully pinned it on the Air Force.

On July 10th, Mr. R. Jeffrey Smith of the Washington Post wrote a scathing exposé-style piece on the F-22 Raptor, a few weeks before both houses of the US Congress voted to strike additional, unsolicited funding for the program from the 2010 defence budget.  In that article, as one of many outrageous inaccuracies,  unnamed sources attributed a crash of one F-22 to “…a bid to make the F-22 relevant to current conflicts by giving it a capability to conduct precision bombing raids, not just aerial dogfights.”  This gives the impression that the Air Force vainly sacrificed a civilian’s life in a last-ditch attempt to stave off cancellation by making The Precious a useful asset in OIF and OEF.

As we learn from August 4th’s AFA Daily Report, however, that test mission was not to test precision strike capability:

The Post conjectured that a pilot’s life had been lost because of an Air Force desperation move to save the F-22 from termination. The real story: According to the Air Force accident investigation board that reported out on Friday, the F-22 in the incident was involved in testing loads and flutter on the side weapons bay and on a missile on a rail within it. Due to classification, the board could not identify the weapon in the side bay, but that rail is currently cleared for just one type of weapon—heat-seeking AIM-9 dogfight missiles. The flight profile involved three passes to create the proper G-loads and supersonic speeds necessary for the test, which was meant to evaluate the weapon bay doors and missile mounts. Maj. Gen. David Eidsaune, president of the accident board, said in an interview with Air Force Magazine Monday that any suggestion the aircraft was attempting some sort of close air support or bombing maneuver was “not correct.”

— Daily Report. Air Force magazine, 07 August 2009.   [Emphasis is mine]

Not that it matters in the long run, of course.  In the eyes of the media, the F-22 was built solely to counter the political edifice of the Soviet Union, as opposed to existing and derivative military technology that could have been employed, sold and licensed to others by the Soviet Union.  Now that the USSR is gone, no other nation in humanity’s present or future will ever be able to craft aerial weapon systems more sophisticated and capable than the 1970s-vintage F-15 and F-16.

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