July 20, 2018

Up the Buy ASAP: Fixing American Airpower

The US Air Force is stretched to the brink, with an air fleet too small and too old to meet burgeoning high-tech threats from Russia and China. We need to buy more aircraft, newer aircraft, and faster. For a start, President Trump should ask Congressto double F-35A Joint Strike Fighter production from a paltry 48 a year in fiscal 2018 to 100 a year by 2020. This would solve two crucial challenges: achieving economic production quantities and getting modern combat aircraft in time to meet rising threats.

The US and its allies are starting to rise to the challenge. As the Royal Air Forcecelebrated its 100th anniversary last weekend at the Royal International Air Tattoo, it pledged to lead the way in new air combat concepts of operation. A Franco-German plan to build a sixth-generation fighter dominated discussion at this week’s Farnborough air show. Meanwhile, President Trump has called on NATO nations to double their spending goals. Perhaps it’s time for the US president to put his own airpower “house” in order by recapitalizing his geriatric Air Force faster so it won’t take nearly half a century to modernize its aging equipment.