Now that aged F-15s are falling out of the skies, we would direct your attention to a recent report prepared by retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a combat veteran of Vietnam and the Gulf. His comments were contained in a six-page “after action report” prepared after visiting air bases and talking with airmen of all ranks. He wrote: “The US Air Force is badly underfunded, its manpower is being drastically cut and diverted to support of counter-insurgency operations, its modernization program of paradigm-shifting technology is anemic–and its aging strike, lift, and tanker fleets are being ground down by non-stop global operations with an inadequate air fleet and maintenance capabilities. … We should create a US national security policy based principally on the deterrence capabilities of a dominant, global Air Force and Naval presence. … The US Air Force is our primary national strategic force. Yet it is too small, has inadequate numbers of aging aircraft, has been marginalized in the current strategic debate. … The next Administration must fix the manpower, aircraft, and funding shortfalls of the US Air Force or we will place the American people in enormous peril. … We lack the equipment, Airmen, and money to adequately defend America in the coming 15 years. We are placing our national security at enormous risk if we do not soon act to correct these crucial shortfalls.” McCaffrey went on quite a bit more, but you get the idea.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.