The Marine Corps is concerned that short-term cost savings, rather than modern combat needs, will shape the F-35 strike fighter and its delivery timetable, said Marine Col. Kevin Killea, head of the aviation weapons requirements branch at USMC headquarters, June 7. “My concern is that constrained resources will drive our requirements, rather than … what the mission is going to be and what threats we are going to be up against,” stressed Killea, who spoke on an expert panel at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. The threat of potential adversaries’ modern air defenses “isn’t on paper, it’s fielded and it’s evolving” and fourth generation aircraft like the AV-8 Harrier and F/A-18 Hornet simply can’t cope, underscored Killea. “I don’t think that we can wait any longer to field this aircraft—especially the Marine Corps, but all services,” he said of the F-35. With the Pentagon delaying F-35 procurement earlier this year, any additional “push of procurement out to the right, for us, will put a significant burden on our legacy fleets,” said Killea. Delays have already forced the Navy to buy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as a stopgap, but they’re no substitute for fifth generation technology, emphasized Killea. (Heritage webpage with video of event)
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.