Read My Lips, No

The Air Force is resolute about not buying any more generation 4.5 fighters for the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve, let alone the active force, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said yesterday. Speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Schwartz said, “No. N.O. I can’t make it any clearer.” The “very pragmatic” reason why is that it’s essential to spend whatever dollars are available to quickly ramp up the F-35, Schwartz insisted. “We have to get production rates up” to manage the aging fighter fleet, on the one hand, and “keep the average unit cost on the F-35 competitive” so that the three US services and allies can afford them, he explained. “The idea here is to make that leap to F-35 production rates [of] certainly not less than 80, ideally as high perhaps as 110, for the Air Force,” he continued. The F-35, he said, is “the machine that will allow us to perform our missions for the next 20 to 30 years, to be sure, along with a smaller fleet of F-22s.” (New ANG Director, Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt has said he would preserve a 4.5-gen option, if ANG can’t get F-35s quickly enough.)