It Depends on the Assumptions

The Air Force is working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Program Analysis and Evaluation shop to establish the baseline threat assumptions that anchor the Pentagon’s joint air dominance study, Gen. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing March 5 on USAF’s Fiscal 2009 budget request. The study is critical toward shaping the mix of tactical fighters that OSD wants the Air Force and Navy to have. “We’re working very hard to get those baselines right” and on getting a “better understanding” of threat levels, Moseley said in response to a question on the validity of the study’s findings, which assert that a force of 183 F-22s is adequate, from Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), in whose state Lockheed Martin’s F-22 is assembled. Chambliss asked if Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne agreed with one scenario, circa 2024, in which the Air Force would fight two simultaneous major combat operations, but only one of which would require the defeat of advanced surface-to-air missile systems. Wynne said the trouble with the study is that modern integrated air defense systems are getting less and less expensive, while the “people who tend to use them” are getting wealthier. Moseley said the scenarios laid out in the study are “adversary dependent.” Some operations may take 10 days to achieve air dominance, others might take longer, he noted.