Put Up or Give Up

The Air Force should decide if it’s serious about the “big” intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft in its fleet, and should either “step up or step back” and let the other services take over the mission. So said retired Gen. Ron Fogleman, former Air Force Chief of Staff, during a talk sponsored by AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday. Fogleman said the Air Force hasn’t done “the square root of squat” to modernize its RC-135 and 707-based ISR platforms, “yet somehow, the Navy has figured out a way to modernize” its comparable platforms and has a very capable brand-new system in the P-8 Poseidon. The ISR mission is “not an Air Force birthright,” he said, and USAF should decide if it wants to be the key player in the field or simply one of several. The former would require more investment and commitment, he said. “Somebody needs to do this for the nation,” charged Fogleman, “and if we don’t pay attention to it, it will go to somebody else.” (For more coverage of Fogleman’s address, read Embrace It and Run with It as well as Longer Fifth Generation Horizon, and Make Peace Within.)