Questioned about the rate of F-35 purchases he mentioned in his presentation Friday at AFA’s Orlando symposium, Gen. Ron Keys said that if the F-35 numbers don’t come up, a costly F-16 SLEP is a near-certainty. The head of Air Combat Command went on to say such a service life extension program would be even more elaborate than one already underway, requiring the fighters to be torn apart and get new bulkheads and stiffeners, as well as new mission equipment. The last to come out would be the Block 50s, many of which have been doing fairly light duty in the US as Operation Noble Eagle homeland security fighters. Other workarounds could involve handing off some of the F-35’s mission to the still-undefined long range strike system which is to be in initial service in 2018.