Air Combat Command boss Gen. Michael Hostage repeatedly expressed frustration with the paralysis of post-sequestration force planning during an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast event in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday. “Politics is not letting us make the hard decisions,” Hostage said, specifically mentioning the debate surrounding the retirement of the A-10 fleet and the U-2 high altitude spy plane. The combat air force is stretched thin, and that’s affecting the nation’s strategic reserve. Although Hostage said he is focused on multi-mission aircraft versus single-mission aircraft, he would like to keep about 250 A-10s. However, he acknowledged USAF just doesn’t have the funds. There are 334 Warthogs in the active inventory. Hostage also said that single mission, fourth generation assets would have a hard time in an environment like Syria. He said he would hesitate sending A-10s into a Syrian campaign unless they were preceded by several weeks of counter-air defense strikes. (See also The A-10 and a Rescue Helicopter from the July edition of Air Force Magazine.)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.