The Air Force wants DOD to restore five C-130J tactical airlifters it ripped from the supplemental to fund additional ground forces—above the 21,000 initially cited by the Administration. Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne told appropriators last week, “When the Office of the Secretary of Defense took their priority list and readjusted for the growth in soldiers above 21,000, they [bean counters in OSD] removed the C-130Js.” Wynne said that the high demand for the service’s C-130Hs in Southwest Asia and a need to shift 12 to Special Operations has put “pressure” on the tactical airlift system. Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley explained that USAF is “burning” the Hs up at high rates. And, Wynne declared that the C-130Js originally requested in the supplemental “are absolutely essential” for the Air Force “to proceed in this long war.” He went on: “We see maintaining a supply route and maintaining support to our soldiers as dramatically important. And, the C-130Js are going to be that backbone in five or six years.”
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.