The next Presidential Administration would be well-advised to step away from the current Department of Defense stance that “unconventional warfare is the wave of the future” and invest in more F-22s, writes Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute in a July 16 issue brief. Thompson argues for more F-22s—than the current 183-aircraft program of record—saying air dominance is essential for US forces to execute their missions. US air dominance is already at risk today and will slip more as new foreign fighters match or surpass the F-15 in capability and USAF’s already aged fighter fleet gets older, he contends. Further, the F-22 is the only fighter in production designed mainly for air dominance without tradeoffs and most of the funding to build the 381 F-22s that the Air Force requires “has already been spent, and cannot be recovered,” he says. “So the real question today is whether warfighters will get a good return on that investment by buying enough planes.” There is no doubt that the Air Force considers it a good investment. Let’s hope the next Administration does.
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.