There would appear to be tough times ahead for USAF leadership plans to retire older aircraft to pay for recapitalization for newer aircraft. The save-the-B-52 lawmakers have been organizing, and now it seems some also want to save the U-2. Rep. Terry Everett (R-Ala.) revealed Thursday at a House Armed Services tacair subcommittee hearing that he was working on intelligence legislation to require DOD to certify through combatant commanders that no intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capabilities would be lost as a result of the U-2 retirements. Letitia Long, a deputy defense undersecretary for intelligence, told the subcommittee that the Pentagon has considered how many high altitude ISR platforms it could sustain, given budget pressures. (It’s the money, again.) However, she conceded that the Pentagon needed “to continue the analysis.” In fact, Long added, US Strategic Command is conducting a study of high-altitude ISR capabilities to see how the mission will be “satisfied” during the transition from the U-2 to the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S. The bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.