The demands to airlift more cargo and personnel to both Iraq and Afghanistan are bearing down on US Air Forces in Europe. “Airlift is definitely big business,” said Col. Phil Bossert, commander of 16th Air Force’s air mobility operations control center at Ramstein AB, Germany. Bossert added that 90 to 95 percent of USAFE’s daily operational missions in its area of responsibility are mobility missions, and there is little airlift to spare. “No doubt about it, we need C-17s,” Bossert said, noting the long distances the command has to cover from hubs in Germany to bases in Africa. Currently, the only C-17s in Europe belong to Air Mobility Command, with the command relying on a rotating squadron of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command C-130s to pick up airlift slack for other contingency missions, such as support to United Nations operations in the Sudan.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.