NATO’s going to have to get more serious about answering challenges from Russia, and that will mean more investment in readiness and a potential mirror to Russia’s anti-access/air defense wall, retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, said Wednesday. At a Center for Strategic and International Studies symposium looking ahead to next week’s Warsaw NATO Summit, Breedlove said the alliance will be looking to shift “from reassurance to deterrence” and defining “what does that look like?” Tops on the list is to make sure NATO is both “ready and responsive” for any provocative moves from Russia, by investing in being properly trained, equipped, and exercised in a way that potential adversaries can easily see. There should be practiced elements ready to go not only in 30 or 60 days but four days, Breedlove said. He reiterated that he doesn’t believe forward-deployed forces are “adequate” and said this is a key subject for the NATO countries to address. He also said NATO should consider building its own formidable anti-access/air defense barrier on the Eastern front. Though this has an “offensive feeling” to it, he also said Russia’s forces and moves in Kaliningrad and Crimea are “decidedly offensive” and it might help deterrence to create another layer of “cost-imposing” defenses on any potential enemy. It’s also important, Breedlove said, to expand NATO’s “long-range precision strike” capabilities from just air-delivered to ground-launched systems. For the current situation, “we have the tools, but do not have nearly enough of them” to confidently deter an enemy. (For more coverage of the upcoming Warsaw Summit, see also: Making Their Case and Gorenc: Brexit Won’t Affect USAF.)
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.