We’ll SLEP on It

Building on recent comments by senior Air Force generals, Secretary Michael Donley said last week the Air Force has all but decided to execute a service life extension for some of its F-16 fighters. “We are committing resources in that direction in [the forthcoming future years defense plan],” he told attendees at his Air Force Association-sponsored Air Force Breakfast Series presentation in Arlington, Va. He added, “More to follow on that, but I think that question is more of a ‘How much?’ and ‘When?’ and ‘What kind?’ rather than if.” Driving the F-16 SLEP is the Defense Department’s decision to extend the F-35 strike fighter’s development into 2016 and the likely delay resulting from that in when the Air Force’s first combat-ready F-35A unit will be available. (For more from Donley’s speech, see Birthing the Bomber and Revamping Space Acquisition)