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​Congress and the Air Force need to take immediate steps to remedy a readiness shortfall that is as intense as the hollow force of the 1970s, the Heritage Foundation warns in a new report. The report, produced by Heritage senior research fellow and former F-16 pilot John Venable, claims that the Air Force’s current readiness level would allow the service to win a single major regional conflict against a near-peer competitor “but the costs in lives and resources would be significant.” The conservative think ta​nk sets forth a list of steps that both Congress and the Air Force should take to remedy the issues, which stem from personnel shortfalls and a change in training that has lowered quality standards. Congress should increase operations and maintenance funds to increase aircraft availability, along with ending “artificial budgetary caps” such as the Budget Control Act.  Congress should also increase the authorized end strength to 337,000 over the next five years, and create new incentive programs to reduce a major shortfall in maintainers and pilots. The Air Force should also add another undergraduate pilot training wing to increase pilot production, the report states.