For the first time in decades, the Air Force is getting enough money in the fiscal 2019 budget to cover its near-term readiness needs and invest adequately in the future. The service has disclosed bold plans to develop new warfighting systems and networks to assure air dominance in 2030. However, something is missing from its plans: there is no increase in the production rate of fifth-generation fighters and the KC-46 tanker. This is a serious oversight, because the current surge in funding won’t last long and the combat aircraft fleet is older than ever before. The last time there was a big increase in modernization funding — during the Reagan years — the Air Force bought a huge number of new fighters. This time around, it seems to be buying mostly ideas. Many of those ideas will not come to fruition before the budget walls close in again, and the service will have lost its opportunity to modernize air fleets quickly. I have written a commentary for RealClearDefense here.
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