In the name of economy, the Air Force has sacrificed its capacity to rapidly build munitions in a crisis, said Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Philip Breedlove Friday. He told attendees of AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles that the loss of the “Rosie the Riveter” capability “is our own doing,” as USAF has demanded contractors pare their workforces, facilities, and capacity to the bone. Although there are about seven major defense contractors that technically can build munitions, USAF officials determined “as we have studied this” that those companies depend on just three subcontractors that provide the critical parts for all. “An industrial capacity is not there. We do not have an industry to produce munitions at the speed we need them,” said Breedlove. He added, “That scares me as much as anything.” Breedlove’s comments were in response to a question about NATO partners running low on munitions during the Libya action earlier this year.
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.