Grim Forecast

The Air Force is facing a grim situation, in terms of money and technology, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Philip Breedlove said Wednesday during a speech sponsored by AFA’s Mitchell Institute in Arlington, Va. Breedlove noted that when the Air Force last went through a sharp postwar budget drawdown in the early 1990s, it had just come through a strong period of modernization. Now, extreme fiscal austerity follows a period in which aircraft weren’t replaced, and are “the oldest we’ve ever operated,” he said. Breedlove summed up the situation this way: “We’re in a tough spot. We see near-peers or peer competitors beginning to build similar capabilities [to those of USAF] in stealth, . . . long range strike, [and] missile technology. . . . These countries have money and they have a very deliberate plan which they are going to execute, and they will bring pressure to our advantages across the world, all at the same time.” The Air Force, he said, faces “increased and prolonged fiscal pressure that will challenge our ability to remain ahead of that . . . technology curve.” The service will have to “think our way through some of these issues, where clearly we will not be able to buy our way through,” he added.