Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James apparently was taken by surprise when subordinates unexpectedly surfaced a plan to buy two new types of attack aircraft last week. Her initial public response — “Where would we get the money?” — goes to the heart of the matter. The Air Force’s modernization plan is already overcrowded with higher-priority projects going into a period when federal deficits are likely to again exceed a trillion dollars annually. So trying to squeeze two new programs of dubious value into the modernization agenda is likely to impair efforts by the Air Force, sister services, and allies to keep up with emerging threats. The Air Force needs to stick with the modernization plan it already has, and not overload its budget with items that are unaffordable. I have written a commentary for The National Interest here.
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