Defining the Tacair Shortfall

The Air Force’s shortfall in tactical aircraft is expected to begin in 2012 and continue for at least the next two decades, according to the Government Accountability Office. In a newly isued report, GAO projects that the shortfall will exceed 200 aircraft by 2025. Further, “The assessed shortfall is likely to continue beyond 2030, absent other developments, because at that time, [F-35] production will have already reached its predicted peak rate and no other new tactical aircraft procurements are yet planned,” reads the document. The Air Force has a requirement for 2,000 Tacair platforms to meet its current and projected future needs, states the report. Remotely piloted aircraft are not likely to replace manned fighters on a one-for-one basis capability-wise anytime soon, it noted. (For more on USAF’s Tacair situation, see Rising Risk in the Fighter Force from the February issue of Air Force Magazine.)