Here’s what McCain said on the Senate floor: “I oppose the amendment. There has been a mobility capabilities study, which indicates that we have an acceptable number for this capability. We are looking at cuts in defense spending, and there are a lot of tremendous cost overruns. We are looking at rapidly escalating procurement costs. These additional aircraft are not needed. They are not needed today.” The study to which he refers, viewed by many insiders as being highly suspect, said we could get by with 180 C-17s. Maybe McCain knows something not yet vouchsafed to retired Gen. John Handy, who, as commander of Air Mobility Command, declared repeatedly the he needed a minimum of 222 C-17s in order to execute the air mobility mission.
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.