A prominent Pentagon-funded research organization argues that the Air Force needs to rethink its procurement plans and spread its forces across more bases by 2030 to be a formidable opponent in the Pacific.
An unclassified summary of MITRE Corp.’s sweeping inventory study, which Air Force Magazine obtained Aug. 7, calls for buying additional long-range aircraft and “large magazines of long-range standoff weapons,” expanding four bases in the Pacific region to host up to 24 bombers and 18 tankers, and making at least 80 percent of all aircraft mission-capable.
The report also says the Air Force should retire the A-10 and F-16 as the service brings on new F-35s, and arm Boeing’s new training jet as an international “light fighter” platform.
“Air Force aircraft need to be significantly recapitalized, brought to a higher state of readiness, and provided with multiple new bases to operate from,” states the report, which was mandated in the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. “These changes will not be inexpensive, but in the aggregate their cost does not differ dramatically from existing defense plans. The change requires committed, sustained investment.”
MITRE projects that buying new systems, revamping worldwide basing, and reaching 80 percent mission-capable rates will cost $673.2 billion through 2030, about 10 percent higher than the Air Force’s own similar study, which requires $612.6 billion for aircraft acquisition alone.
Researchers endorsed the Air Force’s plan to buy a new version of the F-15 to replace older models. They envision a future F-15 that doubles as an air-to-ground and air-to-air shooter with new sensors and the ability to talk to the F-35 and F-22. But they warned that “F-15NG”—or next-generation—procurement should not come at the expense of the F-35. (end of except)
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