The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

Inouye: F-22 might still be sold abroad

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-HI, is keeping hope alive for the possibility that the U.S. might be able to export the F-22 fighter plane. Despite that the Senate voted to end production of the planes and the administration has worked hard to ensure that no new planes will be built, Inouye, who has led the ...

580801_090917_inouye2.jpg
580801_090917_inouye2.jpg
HONOLULU - DECEMBER 7: Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye waits for the start of the ceremony honoring the 64th anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 2005 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Around the country, Pearl Harbor survivors and others paid tribute to those lost during the December 7, 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. (Photo by Marco Garcia/Getty Images)

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-HI, is keeping hope alive for the possibility that the U.S. might be able to export the F-22 fighter plane.

Despite that the Senate voted to end production of the planes and the administration has worked hard to ensure that no new planes will be built, Inouye, who has led the charge for exporting the plane, says there might still be a way.

"It depends on whether the potential buyers, Australia, Israel, and Japan, are willing to do what's necessary to make it happen," Inouye told The Cable in an interview.

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-HI, is keeping hope alive for the possibility that the U.S. might be able to export the F-22 fighter plane.

Despite that the Senate voted to end production of the planes and the administration has worked hard to ensure that no new planes will be built, Inouye, who has led the charge for exporting the plane, says there might still be a way.

“It depends on whether the potential buyers, Australia, Israel, and Japan, are willing to do what’s necessary to make it happen,” Inouye told The Cable in an interview.

He said those countries would have to commit to paying for the plane and also paying for the costs of refitting it to remove sensitive technologies the U.S. doesn’t want to share.

Conventional wisdom is that F-22 exports are a dead issue, because there’s no active drive to repeal the Obey amendment, which bars export of the plane, and because the line is now set to shut down after 187 planes are built.

But Inouye said that he would argue that a scaled-down F-22 might be able to get past the legislative language.

“You can’t ignore that,” he said about the prohibition, “But this would be different from the Obey amendment. This would be an unclassified version.”

Inouye leads the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee, which put language in its bill to encourage the Air Force to continue working on the research needed to develop an export version.

“The committee urges the Air Force to start this effort within the funds appropriated in Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Air Force, for the F-22 aircraft,” the committee’s report stated.

Inouye’s comments directly contradict Tuesday statements by the head of Pacific Command Adm. Timothy Keating, who said the Obey amendment was a dealbreaker.

“The Japanese would like to buy the F-22, but we’re not going to sell it to them,” said Keating.

Japanese officials are still talking about their desire to buy the plane, something Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell will probably discuss with them on his trip there this week.

The idea of exporting the F-22 suffered another setback this week when Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said he didn’t want to divert Air Force resources to the effort.

Marco Garcia/Getty Images

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.