Air Force Lt. Gen. Trey Obering told reporters in Washington, D.C., Feb. 22 that plans to base missile defenses in Eastern Europe, specifically Poland and the Czech Republic, would not hamper Russia’s missile deterrent capability but would safeguard US deployed troops, Europe, and the US against rogue nations. “Here’s what we’re concerned about: We know that rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran are very much interested in ballistic missiles and that technology, not only for the operation of these missiles, but to be able to have them for coercion and for intimidation purposes.” Then, there is the potential for non-state actors to obtain missile technology. “We have been surprised in the past, and we anticipate that we will be surprised in the future,” asserted Obering. He said that the projected 10 interceptors, expected to be initially fielded by 2011, would provide a “context” to ensure “we are prepared for uncertain threats in the future.” Obering added, “This isn’t geared toward a Russian threat.”
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.