The U.S. Air Force is struggling to overcome two decades of depressed investment in new technology by simultaneously purchasing new bombers, new tankers, new fighters, and new trainers. It also needs to re-architect satellite constellations that are too vulnerable to interference from China or Russia. With investment accounts unlikely to rise much in the near future, the service must focus its modernization outlays on the highest priorities rather than being distracted into dead-end projects. Five projects it can do without are “attritable” century-series aircraft, penetrating counterair fighters, stealthy tankers, propeller-driven combat planes, and vulnerable high-end drones. Any one of these projects might be defensible in a world of boundless budget resources, but in the real world the Air Force needs to take advantage of what resources it has to address more important modernization challenges. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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