The Air Force Seeks a Low-Tech Alternative to the F-22

The Air Force spent years fighting to keep building the $350 million F-22 fighter, an airplane crammed with so much gee-whiz technology there’s a law barring it from being sold to any other nation. But since no other nation is building such a plane to challenge it, the F-22 has become a costly investment with an uncertain payoff, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates just killed it. That sent an unmistakable message to the two new top Air Force officials Gates recently appointed, and now the service is seeking 100 slower, lower-flying and far cheaper airplanes — most likely prop-driven — that it can use to kill insurgents today and use to train local pilots — such as Afghans or Iraqis — tomorrow