Still Crunching Numbers:

The Air Force still isn’t sure how the increase in size of the Army and Marine Corps and the Army’s future warfighting concepts of operations will impact the requirement for airlift, USAF’s top mobility official said Friday. “I don’t have the answers yet,” Gen. Arthur Lichte, commander of Air Mobility Command, told an audience at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium on Feb. 22 in Orlando. “We are crunching the numbers.” Lichte said the current uncertainty is the reason why the Air Force champions keeping the C-17 production line open. “That’s why we say don’t shut down any options for us,” he said. “Keep those options open.” If the Army’s Future Combat Systems main fighting vehicles don’t fit on the C-130, then “that leads you right to the C-17 or the C-5,” he said. “And, when you start talking about concept of operations—would they want to land on semi-prepared or unprepared surfaces—well, then, that automatically goes back to the C-17.” One item is clear at this point, he said: “The size of our fleet is going down, the size of our force is going down and yet our requirements are continuing an upward trend.”