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F-35

For years, the news about the most expensive conventional weapons system in US history, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, has been driven by its soaring costs, technical problems and schedule screw-ups. The government and Congress and the public rarely speak about what the F-35 will do, how effectively it could destroy an enemy’s air defenses, shoot down… Keep reading →

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For years, the news about the most expensive conventional weapons system in US history, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, has been driven by its enormous cost, design, and schedule screw-ups. The Pentagon and Congress and the public have rarely spoken about what the F-35 would do, how effectively it could destroy an enemy’s air defenses,… Keep reading →

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 After a week of discussions with Pacific Air Forces staff, Robbin Laird sat down in Hawaii with Hawk Carlisle, their commander. The conversation took place just after the North Koreans had fired missiles into South Korean waters during an allied exercise for the defense of South Korea. Laird, a member of our Board of Contributors, is… Keep reading →

“The F-35 is flying, it is a real thing, and progress is real,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh recently said in Japan.  Several countries, including Russia and China, are working on fifth generation fighters, he noted. Even if the United States does not go to war with these countries, it will inevitably have to… Keep reading →


[Corrected 9:35 pm with a note about the EC-130 Compass Call] Is stealth still America’s silver bullet? Or are potential adversaries’ radars getting too smart for US aircraft to keep hiding from them?

That’s literally the trillion-dollar question, because the US military is investing massively in new stealth aircraft. At stake in this debate are not just budgets but America’s continued ability to project power around the world. Keep reading →


The Air Force provides the essential capabilities that make America’s joint operations possible and has been involved in nearly every military operation overseas since 1991. As the Pentagon delves into the details of the 2014 budget, getting the Air Force budget right is critical to ensure that the nation can count on its indispensable role in a time of shrinking resources.

Our adherence to the idea of a joint force has led to a roughly equal cut of spending among the services. This is not the optimum allocation of scarce resources in coming years if our national strategy is to maintain global presence and communications, as well as to fight cost-effectively and be capable of defeating modernized militaries. Keep reading →


A year has passed since Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act-the legislation mandating sequestration. Funding cuts that once seemed politically remote now loom large for leaders increasingly anxious about the impact $1.2 trillion in automatic budget reductions will have upon their respective districts and states. An estimated two million jobs at risk is a possibility no lawmaker can ignore.

Sequestration threatens the country’s ability to allow those in uniform to do their jobs. To understand what it means in real terms, look at the Air Force. Over the past decade, the service has been hit with numerous cuts and now the 2013 budget risks pushing airmen over the brink. There comes a point when people simply cannot do more with less. Unless Congress passes a sustainable and viable alternative to the Budget Control Act, challenges arising in the Air Force will be mirrored throughout the Army, Navy and Marine Corps — curtailing the number of key policy options upon which our nation’s leaders depend. Keep reading →


Everyone knows military technology projects take forever and cost billions to produce, right? Just look at the Air Force’s latest fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor. The Raptor’s initial requirement was written in 1981, with the objective of developing an air superiority fighter to counter the Soviet air threat. It was declared operational in December of 2005, 14 years after the USSR collapsed. Better late than never, eh? After spending $65 billion (that’s billion-with-a-b), the Raptor fleet was capped at 187 aircraft, just 28 percent of the 650 originally envisioned.

This isn’t a unique situation. The V-22 Osprey has an almost identical story (requirement published in 1981, first delivery in 2005), except instead of $65 billion the military is projected to spend a mere $55B to acquire as many as 458 Ospreys. Keep reading →


WASHINGTON: The F-22 will fly in operations if it’s needed while the Air Force keeps a close eye on the oxygen problem, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today.

“The answer is, yes. The aircraft will be used operationally if need be,” Carter said in response to a question during a morning appearance at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Carter made clear the Pentagon is closely watching the apparent problems with the advanced aircraft’s oxygen system. But it will fly should Iran or something else require its services. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the Air Force to “accelerate” installation of a backup system that automatically supplies oxygen to a pilot if there is a problem with the primary system. An unknown number of F-22s were deployed in late April to the United Arab Emirates, a short flight to Iran. Keep reading →

HARTFORD, CT: Aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney proudly predicts it will double its revenues this decade from $12 billion in 2010 to $24 billion in 2020 — but the company admits it will have to get through some lean years first. On both the commercial and military sides, key Pratt & Whitney programs are going away, and new engines using new technology for new aircraft are coming online, but there’s a gap before they pick up, a gap that slow economic growth and downsizing defense budgets threaten to lengthen. The single most critical factor: whether the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter materializes more or less on time. Keep reading →

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