|March 16, 2004|
Mr. Speaker, the events of September 11th, 2001, and the global war on terrorism have shown that our military must continue to transform to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Thirty years ago, it was difficult to predict the nature of the war we are fighting today - to defend freedom and defeat terrorism. This proves that we must continue to develop the most advanced weapons to ensure America’s military dominance in the future.
Our nation’s defense is envied by every country in the world. We have built our air, land, and sea fleet with the most advanced technology available. That technology, perfected over decades, ensures the safety of our armed servicemen and servicewomen. In 10 to 20 years, we must be able to say the same thing.
We are in the process of transforming our military into more agile, accurate, and adaptable units of war power. The Army is shifting its resources to become lighter -more targeted - and quicker in its response time. The Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force are developing the next generation of weapons systems that will continue our air and sea dominance.
I support these efforts to move toward the transformation of our military. September 11th changed the way wars are fought. We’re fighting enemies hiding in school buses, oftentimes located two feet from schools. These unconventional fighters are lurking in the homes of innocent men and women hoping that our military will not want to attack citizens. In some cases, our targets are 10 feet from our own military bases. Pinpoint accuracy is crucial in preserving the lives of innocent men, women, and children.
Today, I want to focus on two important examples of transformation – the Joint Strike Fighter and the F/A-22 Raptor. The Joint Strike Fighter and the F/A-22 Raptor are essential to transforming our military to meet the challenges of air dominance of the 21st century. As America’s new generation of fighter aircraft, these tactical fighters will guarantee air superiority and air dominance for decades to come.
The F/A-22 is the state of the art, next-generation fighter aircraft. Undetectable on enemy radar, the F-22 carries a larger weapons load and increased missile range, and it is faster and more maneuverable than its predecessor, the F-15. The Joint Strike Fighter will be the prime 21st century multi-role fighter for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The basic Joint Strike Fighter design, with a few modifications to meet each service’s needs, will be used for all three services. The Joint Strike Fighter will have the best next-generation avionics, weapons systems, and stealth capabilities.
We can no longer rely on weapons and aircraft developed in the 1960s and 1970s to shield us from enemy fire. Nor should we settle on using less-than-superior equipment to guide specific strikes against evil in all parts of the globe. Our land, sea, and air fleet must be equipped for new kinds of warfare. They must be capable of moving together as we head into the 21st century.
Mr. Speaker, we owe it to our men and women in uniform to give them the very best equipment as soon as possible.