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F-22 taking off  (Source: Reuters)
The Senate stuck a fork in the F-22 Raptor program

The U.S. Senate has voted to stop producing the F-22 Raptor fighter jets currently ordered by the Air Force, in an important victory for Pres. Barack Obama's administration.

A new amendment will help remove $1.75 billion that was originally slated for manufacturing seven more F-22 Raptors.  Despite being a fleet of reliable fighters, the Pentagon has received heavy criticism for already investing $65 billion in the F-22 program already.

President Obama threatened to veto the $679.8 billion bill if additional funds were to be given for further F-22 production.  The President hopes the 58-to-40 vote victory gives him the ability to continue with proposed military spending overhauls.  The Air Force discussed ending the program earlier in the year, so it's no surprise there is again talk about fighter jet issues.

Other military branches are struggling to fill a fighter gap that may only grow, as the Navy is trying to prepare for a larger fighter gap.

Even though the F-22 is the most advanced fighter in the world, many lawmakers said the expensive craft would not be ideal for fighting militant insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Although U.S.-led control in Iraq is scheduled to end, many soldiers are expected to make their way to Afghanistan to continue fighting the Taliban.

The F-22 is seen by many as a "relic" from the Cold War, and the military must evolve and develop new fighters to deal with new battles.

Lockheed Martin warns F-22 development helps provide 25,000 jobs and reportedly has an impact on 70,000 additional jobs.  Boeing and Pratt & Whitney also are contractors working with the U.S. government to develop F-22 technology.  Defense Secretary Robert Gates, however, said focusing on the next-generation F-35 fighter jet will replace many of those lost jobs from Lockheed Martin.

Gates has fought against additional F-22 development for almost four months, and wants the military to move ahead to the F-35.  Once this becomes official, the Air Force will have just 187 F-22 Raptors, which is about half than expected.





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