The service is looking forward, however, and wants to replace its three combat-loss fighters with F-35 Lightnings, not F-15s or F-16s. Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne explained in a briefing with reporters Thursday afternoon in Orlando that the service will get the new aircraft around 2010, and new purchases of Vipers or Eagles would come no faster. Further, the F-15s currently being built for Korea and the F-16s being produced for the United Arab Emirates are different—and more advanced—than those flown by USAF. No commonality is a no-no, as far as the Air Force is concerned. Meanwhile, said Moseley, spending the money on the F-35 stabilizes the production line and accelerates the test program, so buying them as war replacements “seems to make sense.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.