A 12-term Congressman whose district includes McGuire AFB, N.J., says it is time for Congress to back off its retirement restriction on the C-5A, the oldest of the mammoth transports, and to allocate money in the 2008 defense spending bill for at least 10 more new C-17s. Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.) writes in an op-ed in The Hill, “The continuously high operational use of the past years has confirmed two things most mobility experts already knew: There is an ever-increasing demand for air mobility assets, and combatant commanders prefer to use the C-17 whenever possible because it’s reliable and agile.” A recent Senate hearing did nothing to resolve the C-5 vs. C-17 issue. The Air Force now believes that the cost for the C-5 modernization program has breached Nunn-McCurdy, while C-5 upgrade contractor Lockheed Martin has a different set of figures. Meanwhile, Saxton and others worry that no decision by this Congress will seal the fate of the C-17 production line.
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.