Schwartz’s Sweet Spot Remains the Same:

A fleet of 205 C-17s and 111 modernized C-5s appears to be the right mix of strategic airlift, even with the growth of the Army and Marine Corps and factoring in recent changes to the Pentagon’s upgrade plans for the C-5, Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz, commander of US Transportation Command, told the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee March 12. John Young, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, in February restructured C-5 modernization by opting to upgrade the engines on only 52 of USAF’s 111 C-5s, vice all of them, although they will all still receive new avionics. Despite this, Schwartz told panel chairman Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) that he stands by the recommendation he made last November that called for the 205-111 mix and keeping the C-17 production line open for the time being as a hedge in case the C-5 upgrade work should falter. Another reason Schwartz said he cautions against more than 205 C-17s is the need to maintain a healthy balance between the nation’s organic airlift and the ancillary capabilities provided by the Civil Reserve Air Fleet. “I caution about overbuilding the organic fleet; because if that occurs, it can compete in peace time with … our commercial partners,” he said. “And so that’s one of the reasons that I believe 205 is the right number of C-17s.”