The Unimaginable?

Last fall, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England hired a private firm—Whitney, Bradley, and Brown—to look at ways to “optimize” (read, “cut”) the fighter fleets of the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. That report is due in August. Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Gen. Michael Moseley said, “I can’t imagine a study that would come in with less” than 183 F-22s, adding that “the other studies all show more than 183.” Moseley explained that it’s not just what the F-22 can do that calls for an adequate fleet, “it’s the notion of what does the F-22 replace.” Combatant commanders will be loath “to give up air dominance assets” without a replacement on hand, he asserted. With the F-15C fleet already about 24 years old, Moseley asked, “How long would you have to keep them around?”