Since the Air Force handles nearly 90 percent of the Defense Department’s space-related programs, Air Force Space Command boss Gen. Robert Kehler told defense reporters in Washington Tuesday, “We believe the space mission is primarily an Air Force responsibility.” In the early stages of a Congressionally directed roles and missions review, Kehler said, “I personally don’t see a major change to that.” He doesn’t think now is the time to talk about a separate space force, and neither does he think it’s necessary to change current law giving USAF the space mission outright but he didn’t rule it out, saying, it’s “something we have to go look at.” In Kehler’s view, the premier space service has fulfilled many of the concerns of the 2001 Rumsfeld space commission, saying it has made significant improvements in the development of its space cadre and has “turned the corner” on acquisition processes. And, he said, AFSPC has effectively implemented most of the commission’s concerns on management and organization. However, he said that there still are outstanding questions about the relationship between the Intelligence Community black space and DOD white space activities. Although Kehler indicated cooperation between the two communities is far better today than in the past, he said, “I think there is still more to be done in regards to how we plan together, how we leverage resources together.”
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.