When the Air Force became independent from the Army in 1947, it could rightly claim to be the force of the future. The advent of long-range bombers, atomic bombs, and intercontinental ballistic missiles made America’s youngest military service not just co-equal with the other branches, but first among equals. That was then. This is now: at an average aircraft age of 27 years, the Air Force fleet is older than ever before. Many bombers and tankers are over 50 years old. Many fighters, transports and trainers are over 20 years old. At the rate the Air Force is modernizing, it will not be able to keep up with rising powers like China, because there comes a time when installing new equipment on old aircraft simply isn’t sufficient. If the Air Force stays on its current vector, America will lose global air dominance — at which point success in any other facet of warfare will become quite unlikely. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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