Risking the Train Wreck

Keys further said he doesn’t foresee a “train wreck” in tactical forces, where large numbers of airplanes must retire before the new ones arrive, although “there’s always an opportunity for a train wreck to happen” if a huge technical problem grounds a fleet. Keys said he’s willing to trade “a little risk” in the form of a short-term drop in fighter tails, if it means he can get the F/A-22 and F-35 on schedule. Keys added that the Air Force will have enough warning to take steps to keep the fighter fleet viable a while longer, but the cost would be unappetizing. When they come on line, the F/A-22 and F-35 will rapidly overcome any capability lost to a shortage of tails, he said.