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Can the USAF expand?

Photo: Jamie Hunter

 

‘America’s military has no preordained right to victory on the battlefield,’ so says US Air Force chief Gen David Goldfein. So what is being done to ensure it stays ahead of the field, asks Scott Wolff in our forthcoming March issue, on sale next week.

There has never been a point in history when a statement by a US Air Force Chief of Staff has been more relevant. According to a recent Department of Defense publication, the US has been stuck in a state of ‘strategic atrophy’ — where all services are starkly aware of a growing capability gap between them and potential threat nations.

Compounding the situation is the lack of available funding and human resources to close that gap, resulting in significant erosion for combat readiness and sustainment.

On the positive side, there have been major technological advances and improved full-spectrum training capacity, which result in increased effectiveness and lethality in integrated, cross-domain operations. But, the mantra of ‘do more with less’ has been a tremendous stressor, with increases of frustration and equally catastrophic decreases in morale. All these individual factors have been major contributors to the current pilot shortage.

The biggest hurdle facing the USAF when it comes to expansion is financial, without question. If Gen Goldfein had a single dollar in his pocket to spend what would he do? Buy new? Upgrade existing? Go to the boneyard and pick out an old ride? Read the full feature in Combat Aircraft March issue, on sale from February 7.

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