The Air National Guard has been “clearly … overused,” Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday. Speaking with the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D. C., Levin said he hasn’t had a chance to give the future shape of the Air Guard “the rethinking it deserves,” if indeed it does need a fresh look. However, if the Air Guard is to continue to be used in the way it has been—as an operational force rather than as a strategic reserve—then “it’s got to be recapitalized,” Levin said. “If for whatever reason a decision is made to continue to rely on it to the extent that we have, then we’ve got to provide it with the equipment that [has] been a necessary part of that use,” he said. Air Guard chief Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt told the Senate Appropriation defense subcommittee last week that buying new generation 4.5 fighters—rather than F-22s or F-35s—to keep the Air Guard in the air sovereignty mission is an option on the table. The Government Accountability Office recently released a report saying the Air Guard will have to give up its F-16s to retirement before replacements in the form of F-35s begin arriving.
More than 100 B-21s will be needed if the nation is to avoid creating a high demand/low capacity capability, panelists said on a Hudson Institute webinar. The B-21's flexibility, stealth, range and payload will be in high demand for a wide range of missions, both traditional and new.