The latest news from a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, United States Air Force General and Chief of Staff D.L. Goldfein dropped word of potential scenarios using a new “light attack” plane (F-35) and superiorly compared the F-35 to the Chinese equivalent the J-31 and J-20.
This recent development comes at a critical time as International debates versus the U.S. become hotter, leaving the undermanned Air Force preparing its forces against the Islamic states. Currently, there is roughly a 20% void in the Air Force where pilots should be, amounting to just over 700 open pilot positions in the Air Force.
The pilot crisis is mainly attributed to pilots not renewing, leaving the armed forced for commercial fleets. This comes from a lack of airtime in the Air Force. Hourly operations for aircraft can range from $15,000 – $120,000 an hour to operate. At these figures, very few pilots get the air time exposure they need.
In the recent “Restoring American Power” report by John McCain, he states the necessity of the Air Force to keep their current fleet and add in about 300 “low-cost, light-attack fighters that would require minimal work to develop.”
This development would give new fresh out of training pilots the opportunity to get their feet wet by running test strategies and surveillance ops. From Gen. GoldFein’s point of view, the focus does not need to be on the next best and newest technology. Expressing full confidence in the F-35’s ability to handle most light-end military operations in the Middle East.
Both McCain and Goldfein are in agreeance on the status of the military’s budget. They notably argue that something should be done and are not looking into future tech to do so. The proposed budgets for the military have been submitted, and now they wait.
This is the start to rebuilding a partially dismantled military, each branch has taken hits over the last decade, and this type of reassembly will need more than a couple years to recover from the blow to its size. Even though the United States Military’s force is the largest in the world, but that is not what is in question. Over the last eight years, the military has suffered massive decreases, and the overall readiness of the military is drawn into question. The U.S. has always won wars mainly based on its ability to reach any global point.
Now as turmoil brews, the US Military is awaiting the approved version of the 2017 fiscal Military budget, Air Force included. The U.S. Air Force is setting up in hopes of increasing its fleet with lighter more budget-friendly planes.