Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter last week defended the Pentagon’s proposed retirements of scores of older tactical fighters and airlifters in Fiscal 2013. “We need to be able to make those changes. To keep older aircraft online would impede the Air Force from becoming the Air Force of the future that we need, and that would be unfortunate,” said Carter during an American Enterprise Institute-sponsored address in Washington, D.C., on May 30. Retiring older single-purpose aircraft would allow the Air Force to invest in platforms like the F-35 strike fighter, new bomber, and new tanker, he said. The Pentagon’s modeling has shown that the United States has “excess intertheater strategic lift,” said Carter. “We need to make sure that our lift capabilities are allocated correctly,” as the country can’t afford excess strategic or intratheater lift, particularly older C-130s, he said. Carter acknowledged the C-130’s dual role in supporting national defense abroad as well as civil authorities stateside. Because of that, the Defense Department has indicated the willingness “to be somewhat flexible” with respect to C-130 numbers, “even though we have excess,” said Carter. (Carter transcript) (See also Carter: Congress Must Address “Irrational” Sequester.)
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.