The takeover of the U.S. House by Republicans could prompt a revival of the fight for additional funding for the Marietta-built F-22 stealth fighter, U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey said Friday.
“This isn’t just for the sake of home-cooking, but also for the sake of the country,” Gingrey said in a telephone interview.
But Gingrey conceded that concerns over spending and the federal deficit could make the funding battle a difficult one. The planes have a price tag of $120 million each. “We would have to look at it with a very, very sharp pencil,” he said. “It would take some negotiating.”
Suggestions from the debt commission, made public this week, may hold some possibilities A three-year freeze on federal pay and a 10 percent reduction of the federal workforce “are things that really get me excited,” the Marietta congressman said.
Production of the F-22 ended with its omission from the 2009 defense bill. Critics called the plane a Cold War relic poorly suited for anti-insurgent battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Secretary of State Robert Gates, a Republican holdover from the Bush administration, recommended the end to F-22 production, and President Barack Obama threatened to veto the defense bill if more funding for the stealth fighter were continued.
Originally, 381 F-22s were to be built. Production ended nearly 200 short. Gingrey said he and many military analysts think the planes are necessary to meet a scenario in which the United States faces two hot wars at the same time.
Gringrey says he has not consulted yet with Chambliss on the issue of reviving the F-22. Right now, Gingrey said, he and the rest of the Georgia delegation were focusing their efforts on getting Republican Austin Scott of Tifton, who beat Democrat Jim Marshall of Macon, a seat on the House Armed Services Committee.
Scott, as the only Georgia Republican on the committee, would become the point man for any discussion of the F-22, Gingrey said.