More Triage Math

The KC-10 is another example of a system the Air Force really wants to keep, but can’t if sequester remains in force, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said Wednesday. While the KC-10 is a key capability, divesting it will save about $2.5 billion over the future years defense plan, Welsh told the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. “To get the same amount of savings, you’d have to shut down about three times as many KC-135s,” he said, because the logistics train for each would have to be retained. Without those 160 KC-135s, “you can’t do the global mobility mission anymore,” Welsh said. “You can do it without the KC-10s—although we don’t want to—but we can’t do it if we shut down 160 KC-135s.” The KC-10 and A-10 close air support aircraft represent the kind of number-crunching and unpleasant choices facing the service, Welsh said. “Those are the debates…I understand everybody’s position on this, and I agree with them all.”