USAF doesn’t stand alone—entirely—in its recent push to become lead agent for higher flying unmanned aerial vehicles. We reported that Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) had expressed support for the plan. Now, a senior Air Force official says that a number of lawmakers have asked “why we are going down the path of duplicative systems.” Among the loudest, in addition to Dorgan: Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). Dorgan and Allard are on the Appropriations Committee; Conrad is on the Budget Committee. Conrad and Dorgan see a future for Air Force Predator UAVs at bases in their state. Recent comments by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) should also put him on the Air Force side on this issue.
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.