The preservation of air dominance is crucial to strategic deterrence and to the successful prosecution of modern warfare. General Charles Horner developed and implemented the air campaign in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. He put it best when he said: “If you don’t control the air, you’d better not go to war.” The U.S. has been able to take air superiority for granted in recent conflicts. That is changing, as sophisticated air defenses both on the ground and in the air will pose challenges to local and regional control of the air in the decades ahead. Legacy aircraft are not well-suited to sustaining air dominance in an anti-access/area denial environment because they lack the integrated stealth and sensors that come as ready-made advantages of the F-22 and F-35 fighters. Without a transition to a fully-modernized, fifth-generation fighter force the U.S. military could well cede air dominance to an adversary in a future conflict. In a constrained budget environment what options are available to the Department of Defense?
This is the second chapter in a study by Lexington Institute of U.S. options for preserving global air dominance. Click here to view the full chapter as PDF.
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