ANG Chief: New Administration Means New Budget Opportunities

The Air National Guard makes up 40 to 45 percent of the Air Force’s airlift fleet and 30 to 35 percent of its combat fleet, but there is a dramatic need to modernize or recapitalize these aircraft and money has been short, said Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Scott Rice on Tuesday. However, the new administration could mean an opportunity to get more money. President Donald Trump, during a speech Monday at MacDill AFB, Fla., said he will load the military up with “beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment.” Rice said he has a long list of needs to modernize the Guard’s F-15s, F-16s, and A-10s, along with its tanker fleet and airlifters. Specifically, Rice highlighted the ongoing effort to place Active Electronically Scanned Array radars in a small group of F-16s, saying the Guard is moving through these installations now with the goal to eventually add more radars to the rest of the F-16 fleet. The Guard is also taking an active role in the Air Force’s plan to replace the aging E-8 JSTARS, he said at an AFA Mitchell Institute event. Guardsmen themselves also have been stretched thin after operating for years at a high operations temop. The approximately 100-year-old construct of “one weekend per month, two weeks per year” is no longer applicable, with Guardsman deploying 60 to 80 days and more, said Rice.