The F-35 “can in no way be considered a luxury,” Air Combat Command chief Gen. Michael Hostage said in his speech at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. “We must distinguish between the problems caused by a less-than-perfect acquisition record and our national security requirements,” observed Hostage. While “we may have some work to do” on getting the F-35 built in an efficient manner, “from an operational perspective” and “based upon initial testing and comprehensive modeling, I am very optimistic that the F-35 will meet its key performance parameters,” asserted Hostage during his Feb. 24 address. “I want this system in my arsenal ASAP.” He said buying sufficient F-35s is a “national imperative,” along with a new long-range strike family of weapons, which he described as “another must-do.” The combination will “send a strong strategic message to any strategic adversary and have a moderating influence on their strategic decisions,” he said. While it’ll be “tempting” in an austere budget to eye cuts to the overall buy of what Hostage called “big-ticket items,” he insisted, “we must resist; we must have sufficient numbers to confront regional threats simultaneously, as the new strategy dictates.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.