Falling Short

The currently programmed mix of 190 C-17s, 52 re-engined C-5s, and 59 legacy C-5s “will not quite provide the organic strategic airlift capacity” of 33.95 million ton miles per day specified by the joint requirements oversight council, Gen. Arthur Lichte, commander of Air Mobility Command, told the House Armed Services Committee April 1 in written testimony. We’re “slightly short, but within shooting distance” of the current requirement, he told the panel during an oversight hearing. But when one considers that no airlift studies completed to date have captured the dynamics of the changing world (e.g., planned increase in ground forces, needs of US Africa Command), the shortfall might be even greater, Lichte said. He cautioned that for now AMC and its partners in US Transportation Command are awaiting the results of a DOD-led mobility capabilities and requirements study, due in May 2009, and a Congressionally mandated review of the airlift mix that is set for completion next January, before being able to articulate the new requirement. Still Lichte said he hopes that the C-17 production line remains open. “It’s our only insurance policy right now,” he said.