US President Donald Trump has baffled listeners by declaring the F-22 Raptor fighter jet “brand new” despite the fact they were last produced 8 years ago, and claiming that the American army overtaking “airports” in 1814.
Trump spent his nearly 1-hour-long Independence Day speech signing praise to the US’ military prowess throughout the American history. Speaking about its presumed dominance in the air, he declared that the “skies belong to the United State of America,” before introducing a flyover by US Air Force aircraft.
“You will soon see beautiful, brand-new F22 Raptors from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia and one magnificent B-2 stealth bomber from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri,” he said.
While the public gathered at the Lincoln Memorial may have been appropriately awed, Trump’s remark raised some eyebrows among industry enthusiasts, who pointed out that the last F-22 Raptors were built back in 2011.
In fact, the resources from the F-22 program were shifted to fund the beleaguered F-35 jets, the $1,2 trillion project plagued by technological faults, costs overruns and reliability issues.
The production of F-22 jets was stopped after the US Air Force bought 195 units, four times fewer than was initially planned, before the $63-billion program was cut in 2009 due to high costs and a lack of adversaries.
In all fairness, the F-22 is in the process of getting a weapons upgrade. The jets are set to be fitted with new missile systems that have been in testing for several years, their integration finally beginning in May.
It was not the only gaffe that creeped into Trump’s bombastic address. Recounting America’s struggle for independence from the British Empire, Trump spoke about the 1814 battle at Fort McHenry that inspired Francis Scott Key to write ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’
“Our army manned the air, it ran the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rockets’ red glare, it had nothing but victory. And when dawn came, their star-spangled banner waved defiant,” Trump said, misdating the existence of the first airports – or airplanes – by about a century.
The blunder sparked a deluge of mockery on Twitter, with some suggesting that the mistake was due to the US President misreading his teleprompter.