Given the “draconian” cuts that seem to be in the offing for aerospace research and production alike, a national defense industrial base policy is urgently needed, according to Fred Downey of the Aerospace Industries Association. “We’re not well postured” for the deep reductions that seem imminent, Downey said Tuesday during an industry panel discussion at AFA’s Air & Space Conference at National Harbor, Md. He added that without an industrial policy, irreplaceable elements of the national capabilities in design, development, production, and sustainment of military aircraft could be lost. Downey said potential reductions of more than a trillion dollars could affect the industry over the next 10 years, and that would be “devastating” to future capabilities. “We have to … know where we’re going, what forces we want, and how we want to implement that,” said Downey. There also has to be a “defined path to partnership” with the Defense Department, as there exists today a somewhat adversarial relationship that is not helping either get what it needs, he said.
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.