Defense giant Lockheed Martin ceased production of the F-22 stealth fighter in 2009, citing technical difficulties with, among other things, the plane’s oxygen supply system. But last week, the US House of Representatives announced that the Air Force could soon resume the program.
"…In light of the growing perception that the US military is losing its technological edge to adversaries like Russia and China, Congress has expressed keen interest throughout this year’s budget season in restarting the line," Defense News reported.
The Pentagon is also making use of the F-22s currently in its possession. On Monday, The Air Force flew two of the fighters to Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in southeast Romania.
"Today, I would like to highlight this deployment as a demonstration of our promise to support Romania and the rest of our NATO allies," Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray said in an Air Force press release. "Romania is one of our strongest allies."
While Ray said the aircraft would be used to "defeat any possible threat," US Ambassador Hans G. Klemm went on to specify the concern.
"[The F-22s seek to improve] the defense of Europe, the defense of the North-Atlantic Alliance, to improve the security in South Eastern-Europe…as a result of the aggression by Russia that has brought so much instability to this part of the world over the past two or three years."
Romanian Air Force chief of staff Maj. Gen. Laurian Anastasof reiterated these concerns of a Russian boogeyman. In a hypothetical scenario, Anastasof said a Russian plane leaving Crimea could "trigger worries of the [NATO] alliance."
He added that any unidentified aircraft flying within 20 miles of Romanian airspace "obliges us to scramble planes up in the air, a scenario that had already happened four times this year."
Anastasof admitted, however, that none of those instances involved Russian aircraft.
Washington and its allies routinely accuse Moscow of aggression, even as the Pentagon conducts provocative military exercises along Russia’s borders.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon blamed Russian fighters for flying too close to the USS Donald Cook as it sailed through the Baltic Sea. While Russian envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko stressed that the US destroyer operating close to Russian waters represented a security threat, the incident has already been used to justify an increase in US defense spending.
"At the top of lawmakers’ measures against Russia in the National Defense Authorization Act is the European Reassurance Initiative, which is designed to provide aid to the militaries of European allies worried about Moscow’s moves," The Hill reported on Monday, referring to newly introduced US legislation.
"The bill would authorize $3.4 billion for the initiative, the same amount the administration requested, and quadruple what the initiative got this year."
As the Romanian Air Force bemoans imaginary Russian aircraft, the US and its allies are taking actual steps to threaten Russia.