In evaluating what the Air Force needs in 2023, the service is looking at where it already has more than enough capacity, and where it might hand a mission off to another service, said Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs. The Air Force is scrutinizing how it can “extend the capabilities” that it already has—in some platforms that can still yield more years of useful service, with upgrades—and looking at shedding some force structure to keep more capability in areas where there is an identified shortfall, Moeller told an AFA-Air Force Breakfast Program seminar audience on March 12 in Arlington, Va. “External pressures have forced us to have overcapacities in some areas,” he said. One is in intratheater airlift, he said. Plus, he said, there’s more than enough capacity in “medium-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance”—meaning MQ-1 Predator/MQ-9 Reaper-type remotely piloted aircraft. The Air Force will have “discussions about where there might be redundant capabilities” with another service, and mutually decide if the other service is “going to keep this capability, and the Air Force will not. Or vice-versa,” said Moeller. (For more coverage of Moeller’s talk, read Back From the Future and Twenty-Eight Questions Later.)
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.