Keith’s Congressional Corner

May 1, 2018

“To conquer the command in the air means victory; to be beaten in the air means defeat.”
Giulio Douhet

After the atrocious attacks on its own citizens last month, Syria felt retribution courtesy of the U.S. Air Force and our precision missile attacks. Air Force B-1 Lancer bombers demonstrated new U.S. capabilities as the extended-range version of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile made its first combat appearance.

The F-22 Raptor also displayed the value of air superiority by flying freely and attacking at will in the heavily defended Syrian airspace. It’s too bad we didn’t buy enough of them to counter the near-peer threats we read about daily.

The Secretary and Chief of Staff have been busy on Capitol Hill addressing readiness challenges. Though March’s omnibus spending bill was a good start, the ongoing Fiscal Year 2019 congressional budget hearings are key for the Air Force to get well in readiness and modernization. Air Force Posture Statement.

The House Armed Services subcommittees have finished their FY 2019 budget mark-ups. Points of interest: no new Space Corps/Space Force yet and JSTARS recapitalization continues, however, it’s preliminary until the full committee marks on May 9th.

“The wingman is absolutely indispensable. I look after the wingman. The wingman looks after me. It’s another set of eyes protecting you. That the defensive part. Offensively, it gives you a lot more firepower. We work together. We fight together. The wingman knows what his responsibilities are, and knows what mine are. Wars are not won by individuals. They’re won by teams.”
Lt Col. Francis S. “Gabby” Gabreski, USAF [28 victories in WWII & 6.5 MiGs over Korea]

In the mid-1990s, I had the great fortune to host Gabby Gabreski during his visit to Maxwell AFB, AL. At the time, he was America’s leading living ace. He believed in the sanctity of a good wingman.

So does AFA. We need your help in being the best wingman for our Air Force. Ask us how.


“If you’re in a fair fight, you didn’t plan it properly.”
Nick Lappos, Chief R&D Pilot, Sikorsky Aircraft

Losing US air superiority risks ground forces | 18 Apr 2018 | by Keith Zuegel

The asymmetric advantage that the U.S. military possesses ― and that has prevented enemy aircraft attacks on American ground forces since April 15, 1953 ― is eroding.

The U.S. faces a reemergence of great power competition, and although we have maintained air superiority since the Korean War, it has to be fought for and won. Fifth-generation aircraft with stealth capability are required to survive in today’s air defenses, and the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is the only active fifth-generation fighter production line among friendly nations. It is time to procure what is needed to protect our troops.

Air superiority ensures quicker victories and, perhaps, prevents war in the first place. Parity diminishes detente leading to protracted ground wars with massive casualties on both sides. Read more.

House Armed Services Subcommittees Complete FY 2019 Budget Mark-Ups
The HASC subcommittees completed their mark-ups last week of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). These are the major provisions so far:

  • Advances Artificial Intelligence, hypersonics, and directed energy weapons
  • Enables full funding of the by-law pay raise for the troops, the highest in nine years
  • Authorizes increased end­-strength across the Air Force, Air Reserve, and Air Guard
  • Extends special pay and bonuses for service members
  • Makes permanent the Career Intermission Program, which allows service members to take a break from active service
  • Overhauls the Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
  • Requires the DOD to include cyber and space in its quarterly readiness report
  • Authorizes the multiyear procurement of C-130J Super Hercules aircraft
  • Recommends full funding for the B-21 Raider bomber program
  • Establishes a floor of 479 air refueling tanker aircraft in the Air Force inventory subject to the results of the Mobility Capability and Requirements Study 2018
  • Recommends full funding for VC-25B Presidential Recapitalization Aircraft
  • Recommends propulsion and propeller upgrades of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130H airlift aircraft
  • Establishes U.S. Space Command as a new sub-unified command within U.S. Strategic Command, to ensure joint space warfighting receives the resources and emphasis that it needs:
    • Major Commands in the Air Force are organized into numbered Air Forces (NAF). To ensure prioritization of space within the Service, the proposal directs the Secretary of the Air Force to establish a new numbered Air Force dedicated to space warfighting and reorganize the current 14th Air Force to a space support mission.
  • The proposal supports Air Force efforts to develop a 21st-century Advanced Battle-Management System (ABMS) to mitigate anti-access, area-denial challenges of potential adversaries by integrating the JSTARS Recap program as the foundational platform for ABMS
  • The mark requires the Secretary of the Air Force to continue the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Recapitalization (JSTARS Recap) program which will significantly increase Battle-Management, Command and Control, and Ground-Moving Target Indicator intelligence capabilities and capacity over what is provided to the combatant commanders today, and to minimize operational risk to joint warfighters as concluded in multiple years of past Air Force analyses
  • Requires the DOD to develop and implement a plan to go faster on both the GBSD (Ground Based Strategic Deterrent) and LRSO (Long Range Standoff Weapon) programs
  • Works to strengthen and improve intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) investment strategies in order to more efficiently and effectively meet combatant commander ISR requirements
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to provide a detailed cost estimate and baseline schedule for the F-35 continuous capability development and delivery program

Goldfein: Air Force will likely need more than 100 B-21s
Inside Defense | 24 Apr 2018 | by Courtney Albon

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told lawmakers Tuesday he anticipates an ongoing review of the service’s aircraft force-structure requirements will point to a need for more than 100 B-21 bombers. Read more. [Note: AFA has been advocating for 174 bombers in line with the Mitchell Institute study]

Air Force awards nearly $1 billion contract for a hypersonic cruise missile
Air Force Times | 18 Apr 2018 | by Aaron Mehta

The U.S. Air Force has selected Lockheed Martin to design and prototype a new hypersonic cruise missile, as part of a broad Pentagon push to kickstart America’s hypersonic arsenal. Read more.

Will new retirement system entice more service members to leave early? Officials are watching | 14 Apr 2018 | by Karen Jowers

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said it’s his hunch that service members will get out at the 17-year mark under the new BRS, which comes with a retirement-fund matching plan and reduced pension, instead of the legacy system’s all-or-nothing retirement approach.

Those who are eligible to make a choice have until the end of 2018 to opt into BRS.

Under the legacy system, only about 19 percent of active-duty members and 14 percent of reservists stay long enough to earn retirement. Read more.


“Space remains in competent hands under the care of the United States Air Force. It is our duty and our obligation to assure that we are always the predator and never the prey.”
– Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force

“Space remains the high ground and it’s our job to defend it. Our adversaries are looking for a level playing field. Ladies and gentlemen, we have no interest in allowing that to happen.”
– Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force

“The first time I ever saw a jet, I shot it down.”
– Gen. Chuck Yeager, USAF [describing his first confrontation with a German Me262]


The F-117 Stealth Fighter used aerodynamics originating from the study of bumblebee flight.

Two U.S. presidents were once Airmen. President Ronald Reagan served in WWII in the Army Air Forces, and President George W. Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard.

There has only been one five-star General of the Air Force. Who is it?

The Legislative Update is written by Keith Zuegel, AFA’s Senior Director of Government Relations.
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