Former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, who died Monday at age 86 in an airplane crash about 285 miles southwest of Anchorage, was considered a great friend of the Air Force during his long tenure in the Senate, according to feedback we’ve received. Among his deeds, he was a supporter of the F-22 program and played a pivotal role in promoting the legislation that authorized an Air Force memorial in the national capital region. Stevens was an Army Air Forces transport pilot during World War II in China. He went on to become the longest-serving Republican Senator in history, in office from 1968 to 2009. “Senator Ted Stevens devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform,” said President Obama in a statement. (Stevens’ Congressional biography) (Obama statement) (See Anchorage Daily News report, CNN report, and New York Times report) (For reaction to Stevens’ death, see Associated Press report)
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.