Fred Reed tells us of the future history of America’s next generation air superiority fighter:
In early 2035, the thirty-fourth year of the war against Al Qaeda,
the Pentagon issued a White Paper saying that the F22 Raptor, the
front-line fighter plane of the United States, was nearing the end of
its useful life and needed to be replaced. Not everyone agreed. Various
budget-cutting organizations argued that the Raptor had never been used
and thus no one could tell whether it had a useful life. Anyway, the
job of the Air Force, killing third-world peasants and their families,
had been co-opted by drones. America didn´t need a new fighter, said
The Air Force countered that the new plane would look feral
and make loud, exciting noises. To this, critics could find no
rejoinder. Design studies began.
An early question was what to call the new fighter. By
tradition, aircraft were named after aggressive but unintelligent birds
(F-15 Eagle, F16 Fighting Falcon), unpleasant animals (AH-1 Cobra,
F-18 Hornet) ghosts (F-4 Phantom, AC-130 Spectre) or Stone Age nomads
(AH-64 Apache). However, something with more pizzazz was needed to get
funding through Congress.
Discussion ensued. Suggestions were solicited from The
Building, as the Pentagon calls itself. These ran from “F-40 Screaming
Kerblam” to the politically marginal “Horrendous Dyke,” whose author
believed that it would depress enemy fliers. Going with zoological
tradition, the Air Force wanted to call it the Rabid Bat. A
congressional wag weary of military price tags suggested “Priscilla,”
because that no pilot would then go near it and the country would be
spared the expense of wars. (His idea of painting it in floral
patterns was not taken seriously.)
A national transgender- advocacy group favored “Susan B.
Anthony,” but this was held to be disrespectful of Ebonics, and in any
event Anthony might be Susan. It was hard to tell about these things.
The Air Force prevailed. The Rabid Bat was born.
Loud exciting noises! You can’t front on that. The sad thing is that it isn’t any sillier than putting female combat troops on the front lines.