USAF Wants to Add Five Fighter Squadrons

The Air Force wants to add five more fighter squadrons over the next five to 10 years, going from 55 to 60 total fighter squadrons. The service is planning to build up its Active Duty end strength to 321,000 by the end of this year, up from 317,000 last year, and by the end of 2018, it hopes to bring that number up to 324,000, Air Force spokesman Col. Patrick Ryder said Tuesday. The plan to add five more squadrons will take place on the “out years” of future budget planning, meaning in the late 2020s to 2030s, Ryder said. It is also too early to say what type of aircraft the squadrons would fly, though the service is building up its F-16 squadrons and planning to add 1,763 F-35s. The current number of fighter squadrons is enough to fly current operational needs, such as the air war targeting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, though more would be needed to face high-end threats, said Ryder. For comparison, the Air Force had 188 fighter squadrons in the early days of Operation Desert Storm.