Senator LeMieux, with the entire F-22 fleet grounded, do you still think it’s a better fighter plane than the F-35?

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At last month’s gathering of the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, former US Senator and current candidate George LeMieux made a pretty bold statement about the F-22 and the F-35 fighter planes.  Inexplicably, LeMieux said the F-22 was a “better” plane than the F-35.

That’s a bold statement because the F-22 has never seen a day in combat, writes Ed Timperlake. And now the F-22’s future is clouded by a government safety investigation that has grounded the jet for months.

The fleet of 158 F-22s has been sidelined since May 3, following more than a dozen incidents in which oxygen was cut off to pilots, making them woozy. The malfunction is suspected of contributing to at least one fatal accident.
At an estimated cost of $412 million each, the F-22s amount to about $65 billion sitting on the tarmac. The grounding is the latest dark chapter for an aircraft plagued by problems, and whose need was called into question even before its first test flight.
The sleek, diamond-winged fighter was conceived during the Cold War in the early 1980s to thump a new generation of Soviet fighter jets in dogfights. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Soviet fighters that the U.S. military planners feared never moved beyond development and were never built.
Now, while other U.S. warplanes pummel targets, the F-22 has sat silently throughout battles in Afghanistan. It has gone unused in Iraq. There has been no call for it in the conflict above Libya.
”For all that gigantic cost, you have a system you can’t even use,” said Winslow T. Wheeler, a defense budget specialist and frequent Pentagon critic at the Center for Defense Information. ”It’s a fundamental explanation on how the country has gotten itself in the financial mess that it’s in today.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.