Gen. William Fraser, Air Combat Command boss, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that he supports the Air Force’s desire to reduce the size of the strategic airlift fleet from 316 aircraft to about 300. Speaking during his confirmation hearing to become commander of US Transportation Command, Fraser said the Pentagon’s most recent mobility study, issued last year, established that the smaller fleet is more than enough to accomplish TRANSCOM’s requirement of moving 32.7 million ton-miles per day. “In order to achieve the correct mix of C-17 and C-5 aircraft, and take full advantage of our aircrews, maintainers, and aerial porters, the Air Force should be given the authority to retire the oldest, least capable C-5As,” wrote Fraser in response to questions posed by the committee in advance of Thursday’s hearing. “This action would improve aircraft availability by removing aircraft with the lowest mission capable rates from the fleet and will allow the Air Force to focus their critical personnel and resources on the right-sized fleet.”
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.