The head of US Transportation Command, USAF Gen. Norton Schwartz, now says that he could use more C-17 airlifters. Schwartz late last year defended DOD’s decision to halt production at 180 C-17s, saying he thought that would provde sufficient if other aspects of the air mobility program panned out successfully. Otto Kreisher of Copley news service reports that Schwartz responded rhetorically during a House Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday, “Could we use some additional C-17s? Yes.” Schwartz added, “I would caution you, not too many,” and offered 20 as the maximum number. Apparently, military leaders have just discovered that the Air Force has had to operate the C-17 in both strategic and tactical roles, flying it well above its flying hour profile. In fact, USAF just put additional C-17s at the top of its 2007 wish list (see below) of unfunded requirements.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.