The Air Force yesterday released its weapon system “roadmap” describing all the bases at which the service’s new hardware could be based over the next 30 years. The roadmap, crafted with input from all Adjutants General, details the bases at which the F-22, F-35, KC-X, C-27, and other systems might “potentially” bed down, according to the USAF release. Nothing’s certain, though, because: a) environmental impact studies would have to be passed, and b) the Air Force actually has to get the equipment. The EIS process is not a given, because the F-35 and F-22 are noisier than the F-16s and F-15s they replace, for example. Moreover, the roadmap lists bases where USAF would put F-22s if it were to get all 381 it wants, as opposed to the 183 that have been approved. The F-35 would go largely to bases that now have an F-16 or A-10 mission. With few exceptions, bases that already have transitioned from the F-16 to another system—like the MQ-1 Predator—would not go back to flying fighters, senior USAF officials said. That’s because the Predators offer Air National Guard pilots an opportunity to participate in deployed operations without actually deploying, as the crews “fight” by remote control at their home base.
The Air Force has picked Northrop Grumman over L3Harris and Lockheed Martin to develop and build the Stand-in Attack Weapon, meant to swiftly destroy enemy air defense sites and other high-value targets.