(April 22, 2013) The Air Force fleet would prove inadequate against an enemy with high-tech airpower, according to a study from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The study was revealed last week in a report from National Defense.
Too much of the Air Force arsenal is aging and behind the times in technology, the report says, referring to A-10s, F-15s, F-16s, B-52s and more. The services has only 187 modern F-22 Raptor fighters because it stopped production in 2010 in favor of the F-35, which is behind schedule and over budget.
Except for the B-2 bomber and the F-22, the report says, the Air Force fighters and bombers have "lost their ability to operate in high-threat areas without the risk of significant losses or the need for very large supporting force packages to suppress enemy air defenses."
It says China, Iran and North Korea have developed "anti-access, area-denial" capabilities that would threaten the Air Force's access in time of war.
The report's authors are retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula and Mark Gunzinger, an analyst for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
The report, which is available here, says the Navy and Marine Corps are also at a risk.
The authors put much of the blame on Congress, which has concentrated too much on protecting favored projects at the risk of modernizing the force.
"Fifty years ago, the Defense Department was in the process of building six fighters, three bombers, and two antisubmarine warfare aircraft," the report notes. Today, only one new fighter, the F-35, is in production.