Lip Reading

Washington Post reporter Josh White uses the C-17 vs. C-5 issue to illustrate how the services often angle to get systems they want when DOD says no. The Air Force could not include money for additional C-17s in the 2008 budget request, but White says USAF has worked Congress “behind the scenes” to get lawmakers to add funding for more C-17s, which some in the House have done. Surviving conference negotiations is another matter because there are other lawmakers who support modernizing the C-5 fleet. (Beware: White dredges up the Air Force’s failed tanker lease program with C-17-maker Boeing, but we see no relationship to the current situation.) The Air Force has acknowledged that it has been taking a look at replacing some C-5s with additional C-17s. USAF says the fledgling C-5 modernization program will cost more money than expected. And, Congress maintains a clamp on the Air Force’s fleet, prohibiting retirement of older C-5s and other aircraft, which costs USAF more in maintenance dollars.