High Risk

Air Combat Command boss Gen. John Corley declared in a June 9 letter to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) that, in his opinion, a fleet of 187 F-22s puts execution of the current national military strategy “at high risk in the near to mid-term.” In a June 8 letter to Corley, Chambliss had asked for his “personal and/or professional assessment of the risk.” Top Air Force leaders have characterized the risk as moderate to high. In his letter, Corley stated that ACC still holds to “the need for 381 F-22s to deliver a tailored package of air superiority to our combatant commanders and provide a potent, globally arrayed, asymmetric deterrent against potential adversaries.” Corley also said he was not aware of any studies “that demonstrate 187 F-22s are adequate to support our national military strategy.” He said the Office of the Secretary of Defense “did not solicit direct input” from ACC, but the command worked closely with USAF headquarters to ensure that ACC’s views were available. He added that ACC analysis, done in concert with Headquarters Air Force, “shows a moderate risk force can be obtained with an F-22 fleet of approximately 250 aircraft.” A number that is somewhat higher than the Air Force’s current stated military requirement. Corley acknowledged the “tough choices” that must be made in balancing warfighting needs against fiscal realities.