The Air Force is “very serious” about the Joint Cargo Aircraft, Gen. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, told reporters at AFA’s Air & Space Conference yesterday. So serious, in fact, that it is considering not only a cargo mission for the smallish airlifter, but a combat role as well, by mounting 30mm cannon on the JCA to make it a small gunship. The aircraft might be just the right size for Air Force Special Operations Command, which might need to take a light gunship with it to austere combat zones. Moseley also reiterated that USAF sees an important mission for JCA in the active and Air National Guard inventories, and as the focal point of coalition operations. Two meetings with foreign air chiefs already have been held about partnering on the JCA, and another will take place in November, Moseley said. The coalition would look very much like that which bought C-130s and F-16s in the past, he said.
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.