Think Fast, Chief Says

The Air Force is likely to make a push in hypersonics to keep ahead of potential adversaries closing the gap in both technology and numbers, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told the Daily Report last week. “Speed really compresses kill chains and…real speed really compresses kill chains,” Welsh said. Hypersonics will “make decision cycles tougher for the enemy,” he said, and help make USAF’s non-penetrating bombers, the B-52 and B-1B, more relevant in a future fight. However, while recent hypersonics testing has provided “a treasure trove” of scientific data, Welsh said “speed costs us.” He added, “It’s expensive.” Nevertheless, “it’s something we’re setting up for the future, and while we pursue it, we also need to do the right kind of investment in propulsion technologies that allow us to save money.” On the latter point, Welsh said, he was referring to the ADVENT technology program that will create variable-cycle engines able to sip fuel at loiter yet still deliver very high dash speeds. Welsh said he sees “no options” about investing in that kind of technology, which, if it works, would “save us huge amounts of money as an Air Force, over time.”