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ISSUE #107
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Features

ArrowGreat Gaffes Through the Ages
A comprehensive list

ArrowWhy ask Why?
Five years after 9/11, the question remains unanswered
Matt Taibbi

ArrowExtreme History Makeover
Lynne Cheney and the rules of history
Christopher Famighetti

ArrowYour Tax Dollars at Work
In Washington, another tale of waste and fraud unpunished
Matt Taibbi

ArrowBaby Suri Hates You, Wants You Dead
Scott Brochert and Josh Righter

Local BEAST
ArrowCON
Tom Reynolds, WNY’s human colostomy bag
Allan Uthman
Departments

ArrowThe Beast Page 3
Obscure Racial Epithet

ArrowKino Korner: Movies
Hollywoodland, The Black Dahlia, The Covenant, The Last Kiss, Gridiron Gang, The Protector

ArrowBEAST-O-Scopes
As divined by your ethereal guide

Arrow[sic] - Letters
Gentleman Be Trippin', Hot Girl on Girl Misogyny, Our Illiterate Correspondent and more

Your Tax Dollars at Work

continued - page 2

So what programs was Congress protecting, when it decided last year to take money away from single mothers, teachers, Medicaid and student loans? Ladies and gentlemen, we give you . . . the Raptor.

The F-22 is a symbol of everything that is wrong and stupid and corrupt about the United States government. Often called "the Maserati of fighter planes," the successor aircraft to the F-15 is a defense contractor's wet dream, a preposterously expensive and extravagantly useless hunk of hi-tech metal rigged with every conceivable luxury bell and whistle, a plane whose brochure comes riddled with the kind of hot and steamy selling points that pitches tents in industrial parks all over the country -- Mach 2 cruising speed, stealth skin, the most advanced avionics and software package ever invented.

But there are three basic problems with the F-22.

One, it was conceived in the mid-Eighties, with the aim of combating Warsaw Pact aircraft, which, in case Washington hasn't noticed, are no longer a threat to this country. The chief weapon of our current enemy -- again in case no one in Washington noticed -- is the homemade roadside bomb, triggered by a cell phone or garage-door opener. While no one is saying America doesn't need fighter planes, the F-22's technological selling points are completely irrelevant to the security challenges currently facing the country. The F-16 is just fine for fighting the likes of Al Qaeda.

Two, the plane has the comically horrible performance history common to most hot Pentagon projects, with the jet plagued by cost overruns, crashes and glitches, the most recent occurring this spring, when a pilot in a prototype was trapped inside his canopy for five hours (firefighters eventually did more than $180K in damage rescuing him from the plane). Moreover, the plane's chief selling point -- its stealth -- is, hilariously, a mirage. In order to detect enemy aircraft beyond visual range, the plane needs to turn on its radar, immediately rendering it visible to even the most primitive detection system. In fact, at a symposium last year for the Center for Defense Information, well-known aircraft analyst Pierre Sprey graded the F-22 on four criteria -- seeing the enemy first, outnumbering the enemy, outmaneuvering the enemy and killing the enemy quickly.

"The Raptor is a horrible failure on almost every one of those criteria," Sprey said.

Thirdly, according to an estimate issued by the Government Accountability Office earlier this year, the cost to the taxpayer of the first 183 planes will be -- get this -- more than $361 million per plane. Now, that number includes design and development costs; the ultimate "fly-away" cost, meaning how much it costs to simply manufacture the aircraft, will be about $137 million per plane. But even that number is about four times the cost of the plane it's replacing, the F-16, which goes for about $35 million per unit.

Moreover, there is this to consider. One of the original reasons for developing the F-22 was that foreign sales of the F-15 and F-16 had diluted America's technological superiority over other nations. But this summer, Texas congresswoman Kay Granger, whose district contains a Lockheed factory that makes the F-22 midsection, offered legislation to lift a ban on foreign sales of the plane. The measure passed in a June voice vote in the House after only eleven minutes of discussion. Groups like the Project on Government Oversight freaked out, noting that potentially antagonistic nations like Pakistan have the F-16 and that the consequences of putting F-22 technology on the open market were potentially severe, but the vote went through anyway. The Senate has yet to take up the issue, but is expected to soon, with the same result.

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