WASHINGTON – In the wake of the stealth fighter crash outside of Baltimore, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett is attacking a fellow Republican’s call for a ban on the high-tech jets in air shows.
“The military and the American people benefit from air shows,” the Western Maryland Republican said in an interview Wednesday. The planes have “all been bought with taxpayer money. They have a right to see what’s been done.”
In a letter to the chairman of the House National Security Committee, Bartlett said that legislation introduced by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., just 24 hours after Sunday’s crash was a “knee- jerk reaction.”
Warner, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Navy secretary, said in a floor speech that “we have to look more carefully at the use of these very costly systems in connection with public air shows such as this.”
An Air Force F-117A stealth fighter, like the one that crashed into a Bowleys Quarters home during an air show Sunday afternoon, costs about $45 million.
Bartlett, a member of the House National Security Committee, said Warner has “good motivation,” but that a ban is wrong and a debate on the issue “is the right thing to do.”
“Blue Angels and Thunderbirds all attempt to show a high- tech weapons system to constituents,” the congressman said. “These planes must be flown because of proficiency hours. There is no reason that some of this time cannot be where citizens can see what’s been bought.”
Warner spokesman Carter Cornick said the senator is willing to hear opposing views on the issue.
The Air Force has said it plans to continue to permit stealth jets to be used in air shows.