According to a detailed analysis performed by the United States Air Force, America is set to fall behind by China and Russia by the year 2025.
The only way to prevent that, it says, is to rapidly increase technological advancement and expansion.
Otherwise, in the area of battle- and rescue-ready flight, we’ll soon be taking a back seat to our much less liberty-minded neighbors.
Specifically, the Force has requested an increase from 312 operational squadrons to 386, 22 new ISR and Control squadrons, 5 additional bomber squadrons, 7 more fighter squadrons, 14 new tanker squadrons, 9 combat search-and-rescue squadrons, and 7 additional space squadrons.
At a recent Air Force Association convention, AF Secretary Heather Wilson noted that the Force has a responsibility to deter, defend, and win:
“The National Defense strategy tells us tells us we need to be able to defend the homeland, provide nuclear deterrence and win wars against major powers while countering rogue nations. We need to create dilemmas for our adversary.”
As reported by Fox, we’re not currently able to do that:
By stating that the Air Force “needs” 386 squadrons to meet the expected threat by 2025 to 2030, Wilson did appear to be indicating, if in an indirect way, that the U.S. Air Force is in serious danger of falling behind Russia and China – should the service not expand.
An Air Force report cites Wilson explaining it this way – the analysis supporting the 386 squadrons needed to support the National Defense Strategy is based on estimates of the expected threat by 2025 to 2030. At the end of the Cold War, the Air Force had 401 operational squadrons. By any cursory estimation, it does not take much to notice an uptick in mission demands for the Air Force, coming on the heels of more than 15-years of counterinsurgency air support missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Pentagon has sent F-35-armed Theater Security Packages to the Pacific and moved F-22s closer to the Russian border. Meanwhile, the F-35 has launched its first attacks in history and there is an incessant, ubiquitous refrain that there is consistently just not enough ISR to meet current mission demands.
The danger’s been confirmed by mulitiple sources, one calling the Air Force’s resources “geriatric”:
[S]tatements from former senior Air Force leaders, Congressional analysts, observers and critics may go even further when it comes to voicing serious concerns about the service’s ability to meet anticipated threats — calling the current situation “dangerous.” “The USAF is a geriatric force—it has bombers, tankers, and trainer aircraft over 50 years old; helicopters over 40; and fighters over 30—it has a 2000+ pilot shortage,” Ret. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, told Warrior in an interview.
While we’ve been dribblin’ around, China’s been takin’ it to the hoop:
The Chinese 5th-generation J-20 and J-31 aircraft are, by many estimations, a serious threat to the F-35. Of course, while some exact details of the Chinese aircraft are not available in open-source research, it is widely known that the design is an unmistakable F-35 “rip off.”
In fact, a Congressional U.S.-China review as far back as 2014 made specific reference to a U.S. Defense Science Board report citing Chinese cyber-espionage as being responsible for stealing a number of U.S. weapons specs – to include the F-35.
The current and future threat posed by Chinese aircraft, however, is said to be extremely serious by any estimation.
For eight years, we had a president who wasn’t a whole lot for the military. Now with Trump at the helm, hopefully, America’s defense organizations — including the Air Force — will get the support they need.
And of course, it wasn’t just Obama who left the Force neglected:
“Unfortunately, the Air Force has been consistently under-resourced for over 20 years. As a result, the U.S. Air Force is the oldest, smallest, and least ready in the entire history of its existence,” Deptula said. “We are no longer facing near-peers, but peers given the advancements in the Chinese and Russian military.”
This is where Donald Trump can be effective. He’s proven his ability to step into a leadership situation and start righting wrongs like a corrective bull in a China (supremacy) shop. He breaks stuff sometimes, but he takes care of d*mn business. Hopefully, the U.S. Air Force will soon again be on track as the most perpetually dominant airborne force in all the world.
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