Trading Size for Quality

The Air Force aims to retire 102 A-10 ground-attack aircraft—about one third of its A-10 fleet—and more than 280 aircraft overall as part of the proposed force adjustments in its forthcoming Fiscal 2013-17 budget program, according to the service leadership’s new white paper, issued Wednesday. “The Air Force has made the hard choices to closely align with the [Obama Administration’s] new strategic guidance in our Fiscal 2013 budget submission by trading size for quality,” wrote Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz in Air Force Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets. Among the changes, some of which Pentagon officials touched upon last week, the Air Force will:

  • Eliminate 123 fighters (102 A-10s and 21 older F-16s), 133 mobility aircraft (27 C-5As, 21 C-27s, 65 C-130s, and 20 KC-135s), and 30 intelligence platforms (18 Global Hawk Block 30s, 11 RC-26s, and one E-8).
  • Trim the Total Force by 9,900 airmen, building upon the reductions of 48,000 personnel since 2004.
  • Terminate or restructure programs like the B-2 extremely high-frequency radio improvements and the family of advanced beyond line of sight terminals.
  • Replace “expensive programs” like the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program “with more affordable alternatives that still accomplish the mission.”
  • Discontinue or defer programs including the common vertical lift support platform, light mobility aircraft, and light attack and armed reconnaissance airplane.

(SAF/PA release)