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The USAF needs more F-22 Raptors if it intends to maintain air supeiority.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/24/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,299 times Debate No: 10943
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (2)




This is my first debate on this website. As I wish to learn from this experience, I hope that whoever accepts my challenge is experienced at debating, even if their knowledge on the subject is limited. However, I will be satisfied with anyone who is willing to try their best to best me.

The main reason that I believe that there is a need for more F-22s is that the Legacy Fighters*, which comprise the bulk of the fighters the U.S. Air Force are either obsolete, or fast becoming obsolete. This is because of the fact that since the end of the Cold War, Russian and Chinese defense technology has improved to the point of being on par with that of the U.S. The latest radar systems and SAMs**, coupled with the latest Russian-designed fighter aircraft, have served to create at least two nations that are largely impenetrable to all US aircraft, except for the F-22 Raptor and the B-2 Spirit.

It should be noted that I also believe that the new F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, which was produced as a result of the Joint Strike Fighter program, does not provide a sufficient replacement for the F-22, because it does not have the penetration capabilities; the survivability; the deployability; in short, the performance, required to maintain air superiority, yet it comes at a similar procurement cost. I've heard it said that the F-35 has the same RCS*** as a metal golf ball, but have seen no official information stating anything like this (it also seems highly unlikely because of things such as the location of the F-35s hardpoints).

If there are any points of good debate etiquette that I missed, I would not be offended by anyone PMing**** me with a notification, or just any tips.

*Remaining Legacy Fighters: F-15C, F-16A-D, F/A-18A-D, F/A-18E-F
**Surface-to-Air Missile
***Radar Cross Section
****Private Messaging


I would like to start off by saying that this is a rather interesting topic for debate. As far as my prior knowledge of this issue is concerned, I know considerably more about foreign affairs (a topic I believe is closely related to this) than military aircraft performance, so I hope this will be an opportunity to learn something new.

My opponents argument is that, "The USAF needs more F-22 Raptors if it intends to maintain air superiority." There are a few terms in this statement that I think need to be defined to fully understand it.

needs - to have need of; require (

maintain - to keep in an appropriate condition, operation, or force; keep unimpaired(

So a few questions immediately arise. Does the USAF require additional F-22 Raptors to maintain air superiority? What level of air superiority is necessary to maintain? I think it goes without question that additional F-22's will make the USAF more powerful, but whether this is necessary, especially upon weighing the costs, is the more important question.

C1: The first point my opponent makes is about the alleged obsolete nature of already existing US aircraft. defines obsolete as meaning, "of a discarded or outmoded type; out of date." Granted, the mentioned aircraft are less technologically advanced than the F-22's, but they are by no means yet obsolete. The F-16 is used by 25 nations besides the US, including military powers such as Israel and The People's Republic of China according to It is correct that Russian anti-air weapons have increased in quality since the Cold War, but the Russian Airforce is hardly on par with that of the United States. It has around half as many aircraft as the USAF and a third as many fighter jets. The International Institute for Strategic Studies concluded that Russian pilots get as little as 10% the number of flight hours as US pilots. The USAF is and continues to be far superior to that of any other nation in the world despite any advances in defense made by other nations. However, as I will discuss later, the issue of Russian or Chinese forces is not highly relevant anyway.

C2: My opponent's next point is about the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet and it's alleged inability to replace the F-22. The F-35 would not be replacing the F-22 because, as is likely the purpose for my opponent's argument, the F-22 makes up an very small portion of the USAF. According to The Salt Lake Tribune ( there are only 145 F-22's in service out of the more than 1,800 jet fighters in the USAF. This news article also lists the cost of an F-22 as $140 to $340 million per plan. The Air Force said in 2008 that they predicted the F-35's would cost only $83 million per plane ( I would therefore that the F-35 is actually far cheaper than the F-22. If the Air Force is indeed of a major overhaul in its technology, they would be wise to consider the fact that they can produce 2-4 F-35's for the cost of 1 F-22. My opponent has not offered any definitive study proving that the F-22 is superior to the F-35, and with the cost difference I would expect the F-22 would have to be at least twice as useful to warrant the investment. Considering the fact that the F-35 is currently under development and is likely more advanced technologically, I think it would be reasonable to assume that unless my opponent shows otherwise the F-22 would not be assumed to be the superior of the two planes.

Additionally, I have a point to be made about the issue of advancements by other nations.

C3: The fact that the United States can not launch an attack against Russia or China is not relevant to the issue of air superiority. It is extremely unlikely that the United States will engage in a war with either of these two nations at any time in the foreseeable future. All three of these nations, the US, China, and Russia, are nuclear states. If a conflict escalated to the point were the nations were bombing each other it is extremely like that nuclear weapons would be used, and at that point air superiority is not really important. Though these nations are rivals, they are not military enemies of the US and as such I see no reason to waste resources competing with them in a way that is unnecessary. By contrast the US' current enemies are extremely weak in terms of air power. Terrorists organizations obviously possess no real air power whatsoever and according to the World Tribune, Iran's current air defenses are extremely weak and could be easily penetrated by the US (


I feel that increasing the number of F-22's would be a waste of money that would not produce a considerable benefit. The USAF already has the ability to easily defeat any potential enemies. Any nations (Russia and China) that might have air defenses that could challenge the USAF are not enemies and already possess a nuclear deterrent anyway, removing the possibility of an air strike against them from the table. In addition, if the USAF does wish to increase its forces the upcoming F-35 is a much cheaper alternative with no known disadvantages to outweigh the economic benefit. The US government is heavily in debt as is and should look for cheaper but effective alternatives or simply not spending money is a good idea at this time, especially when that money is being spent in a department in which the US is already supreme.
Debate Round No. 1


Let me begin by summarizing my opponents points, so as to make them easier to respond to:

1. The Legacy Fighters are not obsolete, because
a. They (specifically mentioning the F-16) are in use by many other countries.
b. Russian aircraft do not have the same level of performance.
c. It wouldn't matter if they did because USAF fighters outnumber Russian fighters and the pilots are better trained.

2. The F-22 doesn't provide the same bang for buck as the F-35 because
a. There has not yet been a study submitted to the debate arguing that the F-22 is worth the extra cost.
(Note that the F-22 only costs about 1.7x the price of a F-35 [a][b])
b. The F-35 is more technologically advanced, and is thus probably the superior of the two fighters.

3. In the wake of a war between nuclear powers, air superiority is most likely unimportant.

4. Our enemies are far behind us in terms of air strength, there is little chance of war with either Russia or China in the near future.

And now, my rebuttal:

1. First I would like to express the importance of updating our hardware before the need to update it arises. Because of the fact that it takes so much time (decades in fact) to update military technology, there is a need to predict and implement what will be necessary long before it becomes necessary.
a. Just because an aircraft is in use doesn't mean it is sufficiently powerful to be in use. For example, the Iranian Air
Force employs F-14 Tomcats, yet the USAF has already determined them to be no longer worth the money it costs
to keep them.
b. I believe that at least the Sukhoi Flankers and the Mikoyan MiG-35 have better performance than the best of the
legacy fighters (in almost every aspect, the F/A-18 Super Hornet). [c] Note that Sukhoi is currently producing the
PAK-FA, which is better performing in most ways than any previous Russian-designed craft.
c. You're right about our experience and numbers advantage, but that only matters to a point. For example, one
military could employ the us of five million P-51 Mustangs with extremely advanced AI that are better then any
human pilot at the controls, but they wouldn't be able to repel one single enemy bomber if they cannot A) Reach it
(not a high enough operational ceiling), or B) Don't know it's there (if it has stealth capabilities).

2. Here is a letter from Peter Goon to US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Note that Peter Goon is an expert in the field of defense, with a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering, a Post Graduate degree Aeronautical Engineering from the Royal Australian Air Force, and experience in Flight Test Engineering, Independent Verification and Validation, Aeronautical Engineering System Design, Senior Project Management, Risk Analysis; and Air Power and Defense Capability Systems Analysis.
b. I submit that the F-35, although newer and equipped with newer computer systems, is much less technologically
advanced because of it's more basic design features. Beyond it's inherent design limitations [1], the design
features that seem to have received the most attention are those that are the most rapidly evolving, and that can
be changed quickly by upgrades (such as computer software, weapon systems, etc).

3. You're extremely wrong. Ignoring Mutually Assured Destruction, if we were to go to war with a nuclear capable nation then our priority would be to have aircraft that can deliver our warheads without being shot down and having aircraft that can shoot down our enemies nuclear bombers and ICBMs.

4. Here you're right that there is very little chance that we will need to have the most advanced technology, but wrong that this means it isn't worth billions, just in case. The fact alone that there is a possibility that we could have an enemy that is more powerful enough to destroy us is all the reason there should be to justify spending more on our defense then any other nation. There is a reason that the U.S. hasn't been at risk of invasion for over 60 years.

[1] There are numerous aspects of the F35s design aimed at lowering cost:
*Stealth is limited in the aft sector because of the nozzle design.
*Stealth is limited in the beam sector because of the lower fuselage shaping.
*Radar power is limited by the cooling capacity.
*The radar aperture is limited by the nose geometry.
*Engine thrust gross massflow is limited by the inlets.
*The single engine is a risk for over-water operations, as opposed to the dual engines an F-22.
*The wing planform is optimized for subsonic cruise and transonic maneuvers.
These design limitations cannot be changed by upgrades. As a result of these, the F-35 is uncompetitive in Air Combat roles and Deep Strike roles, only making a good interdictor.


I'm sorry that this response is so belated, but my browser crashed I was writing the original instance of this round of the debate and I didn't feel like re-writing my response until the next day.

One thing I've noticed through the process of this debate is the difficulty of not assuming knowledge that I take for granted is shared. It thus becomes hard to properly explain something, because I have to expect potential responses.


For the sake of organization I am going to respond to my opponents arguments in the order they were given. I feel that this does a good job of laying out the debate as a whole.

1. My opponent's point here is that due to the amount of time it takes to upgrade military hardware, it is a good idea to upgrade it before such upgrades become necessary. However, as this relates to the question of employing F-22's there are many presumptions in place. One is that at some point in the future the USAF will eventually need F-22's. Given the current global situation, it is entirely likely that the United States will never go to war with a nation against which it would be necessary to us F-22's. Though the US needs to keep its technology up to date, it is not necessary to produce large quanities of new aircraft that will also be outdated before it is even necessary to have them.
a. It is true that just because technology is in use does not mean it is not out of date. However, the fact that numerous First World nations employ the F-16 shows that it must be viable or else these nations would not be using it because they certainly have the resources to develope and alternative.
b. The preformance of these foreign aircraft is not going to matter if the USAF never has to engage them, which is an overwhelmingly strong possibility. In any case they will not be engaging them at any point in the forseeable future, and by then the USAF should have a superior alternative to the F-22. I say again, there is no need to add cutting edge aircraft to the Airforce if they will no longer be cutting edge before they are ever used.
c. The USAF still has a three to one numerical advantage of Russia in terms of aircraft and far more skilled pilots. My opponent has explained his own beliefs about the qaulity of Russian aircraft, but he has not explained how an upgrade from Legacy aircraft to the F-22 would be the deciding factor in a hypothetical aeriel conflict. However, I hold that this point is irrevelevant since it is extremely unlikey that either the Legacy aircraft nor the F-22 will ever engage Russian forces.

2. Even if the F-22 may offer more 'bang for its buck' that does not mean it is necessarily a good idea to produce them. It is also necessary to examine the actual cost. However, I will go on to argue that comparing the cost of the F-22 and F-35 is not entirely important.
b. Just because the F-35 may not be a good alternative to the F-22 does not mean that the USAF needs more F-22's. It may have been a mistake for me to even argue about the capabilities of the F-35 since I don't think the USAF should get more of those either. These aircraft are not going to be sent on any missions that Legacy aircraft would not be able to handle. By the time the US encounters a situation that the Legacy aircarft are too outdated to handle, the F-22 and F-35 will most likely be outdated as well. There is no need to produce large quantities of aircraft that will be outdated before they are needed and there is no need to create weapons to fight a war that won't concievably occur.

3. The key words in my opponents arguement here are "Ignoring Mutually Assured Destruction." Does the F-22 have the ability to defend against a massive scale ICBM attack? I hardly think so. What my opponent argues here completely contradicts Cold War military strategy. (1) The threat of MAD effectively prevents any war between nuclear nations, and if war did break out it would simply end in annihilation for both sides.

4. There are already nations on Earth that are powerful enough to destory us. The Russian Federation has a strong enough nuclear arsenal to effectively destroy the American state. Disregarding this, it is a ridiculous argument that we should spend huge amounts of money developing aircraft just because there is an extremely small chance that they might potentially be used at some point in the unknown future. And the reason that the US hasn't been at risk of invasion is certainly its nuclear arsenal, not its ariforce. When a nation has weapons capable of wiping out human civilization, other weapons tend to pale in comparison.


I don't think this debate is a matter of aircraft preformance. My opponent may be able to prove that the F-22 is an excellent fighter jet, and in fact I would agree with this. However, it does not mean that adding them to the USAF is a good idea. The US is a nation that is experiencing economic troubles and now is not the time to be upgrading the Airforce with expensive and unnecessary fighter jets. There will certainly be an alternative to the F-22 that is superior before it is ever need, if it is ever needed at all. Over the past century we have moved toward a world that is increasing more stable and secure. Militarism simply for the sake of militarism is not conducive to this and is extremely dangerous in a world that many people have the ability to end. With the exception of the case of Iran and a few other rogue states that the USAF can easily handle, there is no good reason why the US should even have to go to war at any point in the future. Needlessly upgrading military hardware is therefore wasteful and potentially dangerous.


Debate Round No. 2


thekkl forfeited this round.


Unfortunately, my opponent seems to have forgotten about the debate. I had been expecting an extremely interesting final round as this was a close debate. All arguments extended. For obvious reasons my opponent has not successful defended the resolution against my arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by TheSkeptic 6 years ago
"...but it's worth a lot more too..."

"...decreasing opportunities to utilize it most effectively..."

Yeah, that's why. In other words, it cost too much and the purpose of having it was waning.
Posted by Grape 6 years ago
I gave myself 7 points because I don't like seeing ties on my record and this was a forfiet anyway. Wouldn't normally do this.
Posted by thekkl 6 years ago
Oh shoot, I totally forgot about this and didn't get around to posting my response...
Posted by thekkl 6 years ago
TheSkeptic: I understand that the F-22 costs a lot more then the F-35, but it's worth a lot more too. For what's provided, the F-35 is much more expensive.
Posted by Grape 6 years ago
My Nuremberg trials debate was unfortunately not much of a debate :(. I may repost a similar debate later but for now I am not interested in doing the same thing over.
Posted by TheSkeptic 6 years ago
It was scrapped namely because of it's high costs, decreasing opportunities to utilize it most effectively, and the capabilities of the F-35.
Posted by thekkl 6 years ago
Thank you Grape for accepting my debate. I looked at your Nuremberg trials debate and I am quite impressed, you will hopefully be able to give quite a challenge!
Posted by Grape 6 years ago
I have accepted this debate but I don't have time to post an argument at this moment. I intent to sometime later today.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by TheSkeptic 6 years ago
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Vote Placed by Grape 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:07