NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The Air Force must continue to rebalance its investments in its fighter portfolio in order to keep pace and compete with China, according to the commander of Air Combat Command.
During his presentation to the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference on September 22, General Mark Kelly said that today’s fighter force is designed for another adversary, built for another. era and used in a different place and manner. than originally planned.
“We need to focus our hunting force to face the realities of a new threat environment. And that requires a fighting force to change to be successful, ”said Kelly.
Much of the competition between states takes place in global commons – areas like international airspace, the high seas, outer space and cyberspace. And the level of intensity of that competition increases when a nation seeks to transform a common space into a national sovereign, Kelly explained.
“It’s significantly more difficult to compete with a nation in its own sovereign space,” Kelly said.
“If you want to be a steadfast world power, you have to rise up to compete not only in global commons, but also in highly contested rulers,” Kelly said. “If you want to be an air force that flies, fights and wins anytime, anywhere, anywhere includes highly contested rulers.
As Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. put it in his core strategy paper, Accelerate Change or Lose: ‘Good enough today will fail. tomorrow. “Kelly said.” When it comes to modern combat, if you don’t like change, you’re going to really hate worthlessness, and you’re going to hate kinetic defeat outright. “
Kelly added that based on the much contested environment we find ourselves in today, a threat, range, payload, weapons, specter, industry, capability, capability challenge, which must be met with range, payload, weapons, specter, industry, capability, capability solution.
Additionally, the Joint Force demands that the Air Force win the fight for air superiority, and this requires a concerted effort to remain the world leader in air superiority capability.
Described by Kelly, the alignment of the fighter roadmap and the development of next generation air dominance ensures the progression of credibility and combat readiness.
“The fighters roadmap is part of the change you have to make or lose,” Kelly said. “We need to have a fleet of the right size to remain viable, to keep the hunters’ track record on track. “
According to Kelly, with a shrinking 40-year-old aircraft fleet dropping from 4,000 to 2,000, the Air Force must move forward with modernization to maintain its relevance for years to come.
The continued use of traditional aircraft has become expensive to fly and repair. Streamlining the current fighter fleet by switching to NGAD, F-35 Lightning II, F-15EX Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon and the proper sizing of the A-10 Thunderbolt II will ensure the capacity, capacity and l affordability needed to meet peer threat.
“Keeping the fighters’ roadmap on track involves keeping each of the four plus one platforms on the centerline of their own route and on the plane,” Kelly said. “Like any championship team, they all play a key role. Thus, their individual flight plans are the key to the overall business and the hunter’s roadmap. “