Not “Where We Think We Are”: There’s good reason to put taking care of airmen as a top priority for the Air Force, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said Tuesday. After 20 solid years of combat operations, “they’re tired,” he pointed out. And since there won’t be very much new equipment for them to get excited about for the next five to 10 years, if the Air Force doesn’t take care of them and do all it can to provide gear that is at least better than that of adversaries, “we’ll lose them. If they feel we’re not giving them the tools they need … they’ll walk.” Airmen are top-flight people and refuse to be “second rate,” Welsh said. He added that he’s concerned about readiness and issues such as flying hours. It’s one thing to talk about getting pilots flying hours in a simulator, but “if we don’t buy the simulator, we’re kidding ourselves,” he said. On readiness in general, “I don’t think we’re where we think we are.”
Rumored cuts to the F-35 from the fiscal 2025 defense budget—six from Air Force plans—would not be offset by recent Foreign Military Sales, and will disrupt ongoing Lot 19 negotiations, Pentagon and industry sources said.