Raptor Talk

By Christopher J. Castelli / September 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

As some lawmakers mull changing the law to permit overseas sales of the Air Force's F-22A Raptor, U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Timothy Keating is steering clear of the debate.

At a breakfast with reporters in Washington this morning, Keating acknowledged Japanese officials are interested in acquiring the Raptor. But the admiral also reiterated the Obama administration's position that Lockheed Martin should build no more than 187 Raptors.

"To the best of my ability to determine, the Japanese would like to buy the F-22. We're not going to sell it to them," Keating said. "The president has made it really clear."

As InsideDefense.com reported last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee included a provision in its version of the fiscal year 2010 defense spending bill urging the Air Force to develop an exportable version of the Raptor. But House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI) -- who authored the legislation barring foreign sales of Raptors -- reaffirmed his position against international F-22A sales earlier this year.

Keating told reporters, "There is a law against exporting the F-22 and I don't see the law being changed. And the number is 187."