U.S. Air Force Will
Retire 286 Aircraft Over the Next Five Years
By Eddy Metcalf
February 7, 2012 - Air Force officials announced
proposed force structure changes which support the new
DoD strategic guidance retiring 286 aircraft over the
next five years, including 227 in fiscal year 2013.
According to Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley,
the Air Force is shaping itself for future challenges by
realigning Air Force assets with the Defense
Department's new strategic guidance.
"We've had to adjust our force structure based on our
strategic objectives and to balance capability and
capacity with constrained budgets," Donley said. "We
must have the right tools and enough of them to credibly
deter potential adversaries and to deliver on our
strategic guidance requires the joint force to be capable of
fighting one large scale, combined arms campaign with sufficient
combat power to also deny a second adversary, and de-emphasized
large-scale, prolonged stability operations. The Air Force's
approach to this new strategy is to retire fighter, mobility,
and ISR that are beyond those needed to meet the capacity
requirements of the new defense strategic guidance.
possible, we attempted to retire all aircraft of a specific
type, allowing us to also divest the unique training and
logistic support structure for that aircraft," Air Force Chief
of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz explained. "When that was not
possible, we worked to retire the oldest aircraft first, and
redistributed aircraft into effective and economical units,
eliminating other units when that was most efficient. Where we
retained older aircraft, we are taking steps to ensure they will
remain viable into the future."
the U.S. has removed all combat forces from Iraq and the new
strategic guidance reduces the steady state requirement for
ground forces, the Air Force expects steady state rotational
requirements to remain constant, or perhaps increase.
According to Schwartz this continuing combatant commander requirement for Air Force aircraft and Airmen to deploy forward was a key factor in determining the required mix between Active and Reserve component forces due to differences in sustainable deployment rates and operations tempo. Schwartz also explained the need for reductions in the Reserve Component.
"Two decades of
military end strength and force structure reductions in our active duty
component has changed the mix of active duty to Reserve Component
forces," Schwartz said. "We've carefully considered the mix and what the
appropriate balance should be between the active and reserve components.
The Reserve Component is a critical and essential part of our Total
Force, but must be balanced and matched appropriately within a
constrained fiscal environment."
"We're going to do
this intelligently in a way that balances tempo, that keeps the right
mix of assets, modern and less modern, in each of the components, and
we're doing this in an inclusive fashion with Air National Guard and Air
Force Reserve leadership," said Schwartz.
The Air Force is
going to get smaller, and all of the components active, guard and
reserve are going to get smaller together, he said. Schwartz also
emphasized that we will avoid a hollow force by protecting readiness at
any force level, and strengthen our integration of the Total Force team
of Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve Airmen.
"To ensure an
agile and ready force, we made a conscious choice not to maintain more
force structure than we could afford to properly train and equip,"
Schwartz said. "We've taken this approach to preserve the capabilities
the Nation requires of its Air Force."
specifies the force structure changes experienced by the Total Force:
Air Force Active Duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve and
will save the Air Force $8.7 Billion over the next five years.
For fiscal years
2014-2017 the Air Force plans to reduce 50-plus aircraft from its
inventory, continue to reshape the missions between the Total Force, and
increase Reserve Component participation in the Intelligence,
Surveillance and Reconnaissance as well as cyber missions.
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