House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) lauded the formidability of US airpower, but also decried the future of American readiness in a cutback environment during a think tank event last week. “There is nothing to stand up to our air support, and those people on the ground, when they see those airplanes, they don’t want to be there,” said McKeon during a Sept. 11 American Enterprise Institute event in Washington, D.C. “Special Forces provide a unique function, but they’re working on the shoulders of a lot of people behind them. … If you didn’t have conventional forces to back them up, they couldn’t do the job,” he continued. But, with continued emphasis on cutbacks and endstrength reductions, McKeon questioned whether the “conventional forces” will be able to continue to provide the full-strength backup needed to protect American interests. “The cuts that we’ve made on our defense are so devastating … [we don’t have] the ability to do things that we were able to do just a few years ago,” he said. If Congress can’t find a way to fund defense, “it won’t just hollow out our military, it will break our military. And to be talking about breaking our military right now,” in the midst of the various international conflicts around the world, is an incredibly precarious situation for the US to be in, McKeon said. (See also McKeon Outlines His Own Strategy to Defeat ISIS)
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.