Retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula said the Air Force needs a next-generation long range strike platform to maintain it’s role as the world’s sole superpower. “We have a geriatric bomber force. We have a geriatric fighter force. We have a geriatric Air Force, quite frankly, with the exception of mobility where we are [modernizing] the force,” he said Monday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. Deptula, who has just retired as USAF’s top intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance officer, said it’s critical that the service does not limit itself with the mission of the past, but also considers future technology as it develops the requirements for the next long-range strike platform. “We are on the cusp of a transition from the last era of warfare—the industrial era of warfare—and moving into the information age,” said Deptula. He added, “We have to be careful when we build the next generation long range strike platform that we don’t fall into notions that limit us to the way we used to do business in the past. We need to think about the capability that we get.” That means looking at the per unit price tag as well as the overall value, which today can include technology in one platform that in the past had to be separated.
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.