Say No to Niche Force:

The Air Force is at risk of degrading to a “regional power” if it can’t get more new combat aircraft than are now budgeted, Air Combat Command boss Gen. John Corley asserted at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium Friday. Corley said he’s working on a Combat Air Forces strategic master plan which will be ready in “three to six months” that will sketch out precisely the forces needed to maintain air dominance at less than high risk. “We cannot give up … overmatch,” Corley said, adding that USAF “can no longer dictate the time and place of air combat.” He said USAF has had to “claw to hang on” to 20 fighter wings and can give no further ground on either capability or capacity. The Air Force’s F-15s and F-16s both average more than 20 years old; superior adversary aircraft average less than six, Corley said. “History gives graphic examples of what happens when you don’t have air dominance,” Corley warned. He also said, “We can’t achieve the force structure we need with supplementals,” meaning with add-on funding requests outside the normal budgeting process.