If the Air Force keeps its legacy fighters longer than expected due to potential delays in the F-35 program, Air Combat Command will be selective about which aircraft get service-life and capability upgrades, says ACC Commander Gen. William Fraser. “We are . . . doing some prudent planning in ACC” to determine whether some types of aircraft will get structural and avionics improvements, he stated Tuesday during an Air Force Association-sponsored Air Force Breakfast Series presentation in Arlington, Va. “Everything does not need to be the same,” said Fraser, and ACC will apply upgrades based on “what we’re asking the various platforms to do.” For example, he continued, “if I have aircraft back here doing air sovereignty alert, they do not need to be exactly the same as our F-16 Block 40s and 50s” that deploy to combat overseas. (For a similar discussion, read Targeted F-16 Upgrades.)
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.