Congress Daily (subscription required) reports the following:
As the Air National Guard grapples with an impending fighter jet shortfall that will threaten its ability to protect U.S. airspace, its supporters in Congress and the Pentagon want the Air Force to consider all possible solutions -- even buying Navy F-18s to fill the gap.As a result, the Air Force, the service funded to supply airplanes to the Air National Guard, is being told by Congress to explore every option, including buying F/A-18s.The article goes on to say:
Lawmakers and other National Guard boosters are becoming increasingly frustrated with the Defense Department and the Air Force, charging that officials have no workable plan to deal with the Guard's aging fleet.They argue that 80 percent of the Air Guard's F-16s, which fly the majority of Air Sovereignty Alert missions, will retire years before their replacements are ready, depleting units of the aircraft they need to secure domestic airspace.
The workhorse F-15 fleet isn't in much better shape, having been grounded for three months after one broke apart in November 2007 during a training mission over eastern Missouri.
Boeing said it hasn't had any discussions with the National Guard about the F-18s. But one defense official said it's an area the Air Force should review.
"I think the taxpayer demands we look at this because it's an efficient, highly capable aircraft that can sustain our force structure through this risky period," the official said.The Air Force is focusing its budgets on the F-35, which eventually will make its way to the Air Guard. But leaders insist they are open to other solutions, if necessary.
Of course the Air Guard has shared type/model/series with the Navy before in the form of A-1s, A-7s, and F-4s.
At the same time, if I'm a Guard pilot, fighter gap or no, I'm hoping the Air Force holds out for the JSF.(Gouge: NC)