Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz is worried about sustaining the industrial base for advanced aeronautical systems, but doesn’t expect it will get any life support funding outside of vetted programs. Asked during a press conference Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference if the Air Force might consider paying contractors to keep design teams together during droughts in new programs, Schwartz said, “We’re not going to pay for something if there’s no return on investment. That’s not in the cards.” However, he expressed his concern that there recently were no new US aircraft being designed for the military or civil markets. “That’s a strategic concern,” he said, and volunteered that the situation probably influenced former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s decision to support a new bomber program, despite Gates’ “skepticism” about the program.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.