Here's a quick hit on what Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said at the Air Force Association's annual conference in National Harbor, Md., today.
Basically, tightening budgets mean that the service is going to be smaller and might not be able to perform numerous major operations at once. As for future weapons buys, the Air Force is going to have to be realistic about what it wants from it's new weapons and list requirements that are based on operational needs and nothing more. It's also going to have to scale back on certain mission areas that it doesn't deem critical to its role in projecting U.S. air-power around the globe.
Still, the Air Force is going to fight to protect its ability to control and exploit "the air ans space domains, as well as mission assuarance in cyberspace," hit targets anywhere, anytime, transport almost anything anywhere and maintain its dominance in ISR around the globe, said the four-star.
Here are critical programs that he said the service will fight hard to protect:
First was the KC-46 tanker recapitalization. A contract was awarded last year and the service will be buying the 767-based tankers well into the next decade.
Next, the new bomber. The Air Force is moving forward on this plane which it sees as fundamental to its mission of being able to quickly threaten any target, anywhere on Earth with a lot of precision weapons. He told reporters here that the bomber, (which is again under development, according to the general) won't be an exquisite "lone wolf" or "Battlestar Galactica" style plane. Instead, it's being built with existing tech and will work in conjunction with the other members of the DoD's planned 'family' of long range strike systems.
The F-35 must be made to work since the service has no other options. Even with structural and sensor modifications, the services older F-16s and F-16s won't be very useful against modern air defense said Schwartz. F-35 production needs to stabilize and costs need to be brought under control.