A planned exchange of bombers—in which B-52s would operate from Engels AB, Russia, and Russian Bear bombers would operate from Barksdale AFB, La.—is off for this year, according to Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. James Kowalski. Speaking with the Daily Report after a meeting with defense reporters in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 6, Kowalski said an issue with payments for US participation in the Moscow Air Show is eluding resolution, making it hard to arrange details for the bomber swap. However, Kowalski said plans will likely go forward for “an exchange of leadership” between Global Strike Command and Russia’s strategic aviation branch. (For more Kowalski coverage, read Deterrence Will Suffer and New Strategic Stuff and Back to Guam.)
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.