Senior Defense Department mobility officials on Wednesday asked Congress to lower the statutory minimum fleet size of the nation’s strategic airlifters from 316 to 301. This move would allow the Air Force to retire 32 C-5A Galaxies as its remaining new-build C-17s enter service. “We humbly ask the committee and Congress to support the President’s vision by repealing the 316 strategic airlift floor and enabling us to manage the fleet to ensure we continue to meet combatant command requirements,” Air Mobility Command boss Gen. Raymond Johns told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s seapower panel in written testimony. Johns argued that, based on the most recent mobility capabilities and requirements study, a total fleet of 222 C-17s, 52 C-5Ms, and 27 C-5As is fully capable of meeting the highest projected demand of hauling 32.7 million ton-miles per day. Gen. Duncan McNabb, head of US Transportation Command, asserted that the cut would pose no operational risk and would spare DOD from having to spend roughly $1.2 billion between Fiscal 2012 and Fiscal 2016 to maintain the extra aircraft. “I hate to have folks working on stuff that I don’t need. Manpower is absolutely critical,” McNabb told the legislators. (Johns’ prepared remarks) (McNabb’s written statement)
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.