Not the Force “They Would Have Been:”

The US Air Force is facing the task of defending the globe with 126 F-22A Raptors, according to Gen. Ronald E. Keys, head of Air Combat Command. Keys told the Newport News Daily Press that the plan to purchase only 183 Raptors will leave “about 126 that are combat capable” at a time. He knows “they won’t be the force they would have been.” Keys acknowledges that to cover the shortage of F-22s, he will have to sustain more 30-year-old F-15s, which over time cost more to maintain. Those weapons dollars get even more precious, because Keys says he needs “some discretionary money” to fund sustainment and improvement priorities for the rest of the fighting force—A-10s, B-1Bs, B-2s, B-52s, and F-16s.