Answering questions after a Wednesday morning speech on Capitol Hill, Gen. John Corley, Air Force vice chief of staff, indicated that the Army—currently running source selection for the Joint Cargo Aircraft program—is in the driver’s seat for the contract competition. (Both services are petitioning lawmakers to restore JCA funds cut from the Army’s 2007 budget request.) Corley says USAF has agreed in writing to accept the Army’s initial assessment of alternatives. “We’ve got to do it just that way… and I’m comfortable where we are going,” he said, adding that the Air Force would pursue any special requirements as the program evolves. Corley emphasized that the partnership offers “some economy of scale,” such as combining training and logistics resources and engaging Guard units in the program. (Some Air National Guard units already appear to be on the short list for JCA missions.) He said, “It sure would be good to have a governor have access to that kind of an asset … and yet at the same time if we need to fold it into the war on terror, we can do that as well.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.