New Old-Fighter Fighters

A lot has changed since the change-out of the Air Force leadership last year, but one thing apparently hasn’t: an unwillingness to buy new versions of 4th-generation fighters. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, in a press conference Feb. 26 at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., said it’s true that the Air Force will have to live with older fighters for a long while to come, but that their sunset won’t be prolonged. “We will have a legacy fleet … reaching into the mid-2020s, if not later,” said Schwartz. He continued, “So this sort of friction between, ‘Do we buy new legacy or new Gen 5?’ … is a valid debate.” But his inclination, he went on, is that the “F-35 is the future for our Air Force.” USAF’s previous leadership tandem—Michael Wynne, predecessor to Secretary Michael Donley, and Schwartz’s forerunner, Gen. Michael Moseley—insisted that any new money for fighters go toward new stealth platforms and not souped-up versions of unstealthy F-15s or F-16s.