Virginia lawmakers ask Air Force to consider state for more F-22s

The lawmakers are seeking to stave off the loss of hundreds of jobs around Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

Langley has already been chosen to house 36 F-22s, built by Lockheed Martin. However, the base will also lose its F-15 fighter jets, which are slated to retire.

The retirement of the F-15s will result “in the loss of an additional 399 military jobs from an area already hit hard” by the latest round of Base Realignment and Closure in 2005, the lawmakers said in the letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force’s chief of staff.

Sens. Jim Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D) signed the letter with Reps. Glenn Nye (D), Robert "Bobby" Scott (D) and Rob Wittman (R). They want a briefing from Donley and Schwartz on the Air Force’s future plans to consolidate the F-22 bases.

The lawmakers stressed that Langley “clearly has excess operational capacity and modern facilities specifically constructed for the F-22 Raptor.”

“We seek to gain a better understanding of the status of the Air Force’s plan for realignment of the remaining F-22 squadrons,” they wrote. The Virginians are also calling for the Air Force to make the basing decisions in an “objective, transparent and defensible way.”

The Obama administration successfully capped the fleet of F-22 fighter jets at 187. Congress this year heeded calls from President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to curb the production of the stealth fighter jet. Obama personally threatened to veto the defense bills over more F-22 funding.