Get On With It

Get on With It: The time is now to begin recapitalizing the Air Force’s fighter fleet in earnest, Gen. John Corley, commander of Air Combat Command, said Wednesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. “This is not a time for us to be buying fewer aircraft in a year than we used to procure in a month,” Corley said during a four-star forum when asked to comment on the looming fighter gap that the service faces. Air Force officials told Congress in April that the service will find itself short about 800 fighters starting in 2017 based on current F-22 and F-35 procurement plans. “The gap is real,” Corley said. It is created not only “by older airplanes that are wearing out,” but also “by a loss of capability” from buying the new fighters “in inefficient order of quantities,” he said. This situation, if not reversed, will leave airmen with an “absence of the tools” to perform their missions, Corley said. The Air Force has been exploring ways to avoid or minimize this gap in large part by increasing its annual F-35 buy at peak production 48 airframes to 110 using additional funds that the Office of the Secretary of Defense is expected to provide for procurement starting in Fiscal 2010 under an increased topline budget. “We owe it to our airmen,” Corley said.