Despite the criticism levied at the Air Force over the planned retirement of the A-10, the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces panel made no mention of the divestiture in its mark-up of the Fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill. The panel did, however, express its disappointment that budget constraints forced the Air Force to cancel the Combat Aviation Programmed Extension Suite program for the F-16. The tacair mark acknowledges efforts under way for future F-16 upgrades beginning in Fiscal 2016, noting there may be “more affordable options” available. Specifically, the panel urged USAF to consider both the Computer Modular Receiver Exciter (C-MoRE), which would improve the radar on the Air National Guard’s Block 30 F-16 fleet. It also recommended USAF consider the Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), which would provide a “three-fold increase in radar reliability.” The Air Force’s F-16 fleet makes up 50 percent of DOD’s fighter force, states the mark-up, and the Block 40, 42, and 50 F-16s likely will remain in the inventory for the next 15-to-20 years making capability upgrades “vitally important.” The panel also directed the Air Force to submit a report no later than Feb. 16, 2015, describing its plan for F-16 capability upgrades. (Tacair Mark-Up.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.