The ramifications of the Pentagon’s looming 12-year, $400 billion budget cut on the Air Force’s ability to recapitalize its aging aircraft fleets are causing service officials “quite some concern,” Vice Chief of Staff Philip Breedlove told lawmakers. “We do have a [tactical aircraft] fleet and a bomber fleet that [are] in bad need of recapitalization. And our plans throughout this period would be challenged by those cuts,” he said in testimony Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness panel. The Air Force also has to procure the new KC-46A tanker and it wants to buy new rescue helicopters and utility helos as well during that span. Breedlove appeared before the panel, along with his counterparts from the other services, to discuss readiness issues in the context of this projected cut. Absorbing its “fair share” of the $400 billion reduction “would force” the Air Force “to constrict” in size “in order to maintain a ready and fit force to fight,” he said. (Breedlove written statement) (See also Mission Impossible)
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.