Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt, director of the Air National Guard, said Wednesday he does not care which new fighter aircraft the Air Guard receives as long as it possesses the attributes needed to execute the air sovereignty alert mission effectively and participate in overseas air and space expeditionary force rotations. For F-22 supporters out there, his words were no ringing endorsement for more F-22s. “I am basically platform agnostic,” Wyatt told defense reporters in Washington, D.C. He continued, “I am interested in capabilities.” To perform the ASA mission in the future, Wyatt said the Air Guard needs platforms equipped with features like advanced electronically scanned array radars, infrared search and tracking systems, sensor fusion, and beyond-line-of-sight communications—all needed to deal with threats like sea-launched cruise missiles aimed at the US homeland. “All of those capabilities need to be in the next platform, whatever it is,” he explained. He added, “Do we need more F-22s? Do we need more F-35s? Do we need more F-16s, F-15s, F/A-18s? I don’t care as long as that capability [is resident]” and the Air Guard is “concurrently fielded with the same equipment” as the active duty force. Wyatt said his June 19 letter to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), in which he advocated for the F-22’s use in an ASA role in response to the Senator’s query on ASA, was not a call for more Raptors beyond the 187 program of record as some have interpreted it. (Read more in Concurrent and Proportionate)
Whether the F-35 fighter will get new engines from the Air Force’s cutting-edge Adaptive Engine Transition Program is a question that needs to be resolved at the Defense Department level, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told lawmakers May 17—and he anticipates an answer in the 2024 budget.