Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Hollow Air Force Looms

Despite repeated warnings, the USAF dependence on unaffordable hi tech platforms threatens its very existence. From Air Force Times:

The Air Force will begin facing a shortage of fighter aircraft by
2017, and the shortage will balloon to 800 aircraft by 2024, senior Air Force
officials said Wednesday.
That fighter gap could force the Air Force to keep
aging F-15s and F-16s flying beyond their anticipated retirement dates by
sinking billions into additional service-life extension programs...
“The size
of the F-22 force is certainly a contributor, but the real contributor to [the
gap] is ... the Joint Strike Fighter production rate,” Hoffman said. “We still
stand by 1,763 as our final number, it’s just when do we get there and how do
the legacy aircraft age until that last one is delivered? JSF replaces all our
F-16s and all our A-10s, but they may not live long enough until the last JSF
comes along.”

To stave off disaster, the Pentagon must invest in new build, late model versions of proven aircraft like the venerable F-16s. To do otherwise would run the risk of a future administration refusing to allow our airmen to continue flying ancient legacy planes built in the last century. As we have seen, such battle worn jets have been literally falling from the skies. Thus we will end up with an Air force about the size of Britain's, with less than 200 new Raptor fighters and perhaps and handful of F-35 planes as its main force by the middle of the next decade.