Now we understand why it’s so very hard to cut military spending:
In 2009, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates and then-Air Force Secretary Michael Donley forcefully requested that Congress end production of the F-22, capping the program at 187 planes, a shift designed to save the military $13 billion. Military officials called for F-22 money to be diverted to weapons that could be deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Pentagon request touched off a fierce, though ultimately fruitless, lobbying battle. Lockheed Martin directed its registered lobbyists to fight back against the cuts in Congress and took out full-page advertisements in D.C. publications. And the Heritage Foundation produced a flurry of reports and media outreach efforts to encourage Congress to overturn the Pentagon’s decision.
Emails show that the Heritage Foundation’s fundraising staff worked closely with Mackenzie Eaglen, a researcher at the think tank who authored severalreports calling for restoring F-22 funding. According to Heritage’s internal weekly calendar, Eaglen was scheduled to participate in “a Lockheed Martin think tank delegation to visit their fifth-generation fighter production facilities in Fort Worth, TX” in April 2009.
“I had a very interesting 20 minute conversation this morning with Mackenzie Eaglen about the F-22 and defense spending in general. She gave me the sad update of defense spending on the hill, which provided good context for me to understand our activities during Protect America month,” wrote Jeffrey Trimbath, the assistant director of major gift planning at Heritage. Trimbath’s notes show that Eaglen said that Heritage had attempted to “convince the Congress to fund an Allied Variant of the F-22 so that the production lines stay open while retaining a critical aerospace industrial base,” but that the combined opposition of Secretary Gates and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., made the request difficult.
James Jay Carafano, the vice president of Heritage’s Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, met several times with Lockheed Martin executives, even traveling to Marietta, Georgia, where the F-22 is produced, to participate in a “Lockheed Martin Tour of F-22 Programs.”
Some of the meeting documents list their topics, including one titled “Lockheed Martin Briefing on the Saudi Eastern Fleet Modernization Program.” But the documents do not go into detail about what was discussed at the meetings.