The in-progress mobility capabilities requirements study, due to report out in the next few months, will probably not present “a major departure” from the mobility levels determined in the last such study that was posited on the needs of the year 2005, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told an audience June 11 at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Schwartz said that one of the major arguments for expanding the airlift fleet is the addition of more Army and Marine Corps divisions. However, the size of those services isn’t the issue, he said. What’s more relevant is the airlift requirement for surging ground forces, when called upon. Schwartz said, as he understands it, the increase in Army and Marine Corps end strength—by 92,000 personnel in total—“is largely meant to manage tempo, not to increase the capacity for surge.” If that’s the case, he continued, then “one of the arguments for a larger airlift fleet doesn’t fly.” He said the Air Force is currently at the right level of strategic airlift with 316 tails—111 C-5s and a program of record for 205 C-17s. Acquiring more airplanes where they’re not needed would be unhealthy, he said. Thus, “If there are more C-17s in the [war] supplemental, it is important not to just let this fleet continue to grow,” he said. (The House added eight to its version of the war supplemental bill; the Senate none.) Rather, the appropriate adjustment would be to take some C-5As out of service, he said. (For more, read Airlift on Thin Ice from the October 2008 issue of Air Force Magazine.)
The Air Force isn’t giving up on its long-frustrated efforts to retire older aircraft, as the department’s leader continues to talk with lawmakers about plans to free up funds for its modernization efforts, Undersecretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones said Nov. 30.