In the name of economy, the Air Force has sacrificed its capacity to rapidly build munitions in a crisis, said Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Philip Breedlove Friday. He told attendees of AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles that the loss of the “Rosie the Riveter” capability “is our own doing,” as USAF has demanded contractors pare their workforces, facilities, and capacity to the bone. Although there are about seven major defense contractors that technically can build munitions, USAF officials determined “as we have studied this” that those companies depend on just three subcontractors that provide the critical parts for all. “An industrial capacity is not there. We do not have an industry to produce munitions at the speed we need them,” said Breedlove. He added, “That scares me as much as anything.” Breedlove’s comments were in response to a question about NATO partners running low on munitions during the Libya action earlier this year.
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.