The Air National Guard wings that resisted transferring from fighter jets to remotely piloted aircraft have embraced the new, highly relevant mission, National Guard Bureau chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel said Wednesday. “I saw many former F-16 units go kicking and screaming into the Predator mission, and now you can’t go to one of these places and they won’t tell you we regret resisting this,” he told the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C. “They feel like they are engaged in direct combat operations every day … they have transitioned and they have taken to the mission seamlessly.” Lengyel said the Guard has used innovative scheduling to create a sustainable battle rhythm with shorter hours than Active Duty RPA pilots, limiting the impact on its members’ quality of life. (See also: Guard Predator Wing Reaches 100,000 Hours.)
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.