Not Ready for a Fair Fight

Less than half the Air Force’s combat flying units are currently ready to go to war against highly capable adversaries, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said on Wednesday. “Here’s a worrying statistic … a little bit less than half of our Combat Air Forces are sufficiently ready for a high-end fight; … the kind of fight where people can shoot you down,” she said during a National Aeronautic Association event in Arlington, Va. “We have been blessed for decades to own the skies, but we can’t take that for granted,” she added, noting that many potential adversaries possess sophisticated, and often networked, air defenses “that can interfere with us.” James said this is her “No. 1 worrisome statistic,” ahead of both aging aircraft and the Air Force being the smallest since its inception as an independent service branch. “All of this is true at a time when the threats seem to just be exploding around the world” from Iraq and Syria, and Russia, to the “worrisome actions of the Chinese in the South China Sea,” she said.