Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno acknowledged the Air Force had “no choice” but to reduce the number of remotely piloted aircraft combat air patrols in order to normalize its training pipeline, saying the decision shows how sequestration-related cuts are driving very hard tradeoffs across the services. “They only have the capacity to do so much. Unless they grow their capacity, they can’t continue on the path they are doing,” Odierno told reporters in Washington, D.C., Thursday. USAF announced the rollback from 65 to 60 CAPS on May 20, along with other RPA field reforms, including increased schoolhouse manning. Even though the Army benefits from the intelligence gleaned from MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers, Odierno agreed with the cut, saying it was “fundamentally [the] right decision.” However, he also said the requirement for RPA CAPs is “not going away.” The Army is facing demand pressures across its missions as well, said Odierno, and at a certain point, when resources diverge from requirements, “We will have to stop doing missions.”
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.