No Justification

The US military does not need more C-17s and seemingly has enough strategic airlift with those C-17s and its modernized C-5s, Pentagon acquisition czar John Young, told Congress March 11. “There is no argument,” Young asserted to members of the House Armed Services Committee, “to buy additional C-17s.” In fact, Young told the lawmakers during a joint session of the committee’s air and land forces and seapower and expeditionary forces panels, “use of funds for this purpose in a constrained budget environment will result in denying other capabilities to our warfighters.” The Air Force’s program of record is for 190 C-17s; it would like more, but cannot currently afford them. USAF also has 111 larger C-5s, 52 of which will get new engines and avionics under a restructured upgrade plan announced last month. The remaining 59 C-5s, all A models, will just get new avionics. Together those airlift assets, “meet” DOD’s standing requirement “with some margin,” Young said, noting that there is the capacity to enhance the maintenance of those airplanes “and overachieve that requirement” if the need arises. The Pentagon’s leadership is increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps and is studying the extent to which the airlift requirement will change to support the larger ground forces. Implying that DOD already has the answer, Young’s written statement to the panels says “it is not clear that substantial changes have occurred” in DOD’s need for oversized and outsized cargo capacity. Further, its states that more airlift demand “can be substantially addressed” by the future KC-45A tanker. Accordingly, “the department believes that the C-17 production line should not be kept open,” he writes.