If you have been asked to go "downtown" in a serious air war, you have a reasonable right to expect that the equipment you are given to do that will be the best that America can produce. It is your only hope for survival in the environment. The environment has gotten a lot more hostile since the days when I did it.
The good news, however, is that despite our political system and government bungling for the last twenty-some years, we have produced an airplane capable of doing the job. We've got another one in the pipeline to maintain the synergistic team that was defined by the F-15/F-16 force for the last thirty five years.
We are engaged now in a massive conversion of America from global superpower to groveling welfare-dependent Nanny State. That means that loyal administration functionaries stand up and spout things like Bob Gates does. "We don't need Raptors because they have little application in Iraq and Afghanistan." Of course we don't. We need them because they have massive potential applications both seen and unforeseeable for the next thirty years.
It is ludicrous to close an assembly line for Raptors today, capping the force at a puny four or five operational squadrons with the promise that we will be buying around 2000 F-35s. I don't believe the promise for tomorrow will be fulfilled. I know for a fact that the F-35 can't do the job that the Raptor does. I also learned this today:
Two Years Behind Schedule--The First Nail in the Coffin
Can you see the scenario now? Today we close the F-22 line. Next year we begin bleating about the "failed" F-35 program. The total buy gets cut to pay for welfare and healthcare disasters. With the lower buy, the unit cost goes up. Can't buy that many, so we cut further and stretch out the contract.
Somewhere along the way an adventureous enemy decides we are vulnerable, since we are. They attack, we lose.
End of story.