ISR, Strike at Core of Combat Airpower Reset

While the United States has built up a capable portfolio of combat airpower that has provided a key advantage over its adversaries since World War II, the Pentagon and Congress must rebalance this force, argued the authors of a new Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments report on Monday. Speaking at an event sponsored by AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in Arlington, Va., Mitchell Institute Dean David Deptula and CSBA Senior Fellow Mark Gunzinger said the time to re-examine US combat air forces is now, as challenges to the traditional ways America projects power are proliferating. With the rise of anti-access, area-denial threats, and a growing emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, Gunzinger said, future needs focus more acutely on fielding new long-range intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance airplanes and strike aircraft that could give the United States greater ability to project power farther and more quickly. Slowly, Defense Department officials are realizing they need to address these areas as evidenced by the priority given to the Air Force’s Long-Range Strike Bomber, said the pair. But the Navy also needs to invest in stealthy, refuelable unmanned combat airplanes to keep aircraft carriers relevant in A2/AD environments.