Acquiring the Air Force We Need

The first F-35A Lightning II to land at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, arrives Sept. 13, 2013. The multirole, fifth-generation fighter arrived from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., and is scheduled to undergo post-production modifications at the Ogden Air Logistics Complex in Utah. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alex R. Lloyd)

ARLINGTON, VA (June 8, 2020) — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Mitchell Forum short paper series, “Acquiring the Air Force We Need” by John “JV” Venable. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons Instructor Course, with more than 3,300 hours in the F-16C. At present, JV serves as a Senior Research Fellow for Defense Policy in the Center for National Defense of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

“Acquiring the Air Force We Need” assesses Air Force acquisition efforts based on strategy, budget analysis, security threats, and historical lessons. Venable asserts that after 28 years of downsizing, combat deployments, and funding challenges the Air Force lacks the capacity to meet the challenges laid out in the 2018 National Defense Strategy. Addressing this shortfall requires exploiting current defense budget surges to procure weapons systems that will provide pragmatic operational capacity and capability over the next several years. Just as the present Air Force comprises aircraft largely from the Reagan buildup, the Air Force of 2040 will comprise aircraft that can be acquired from active production lines or are nearing production. While robust investment in research and development lines of effort may prove useful in the future, aspirational concepts cannot replace operationally vetted systems available in the near term, especially when so much risk is being leveraged across such an old, small force.

The Forum presents innovative concepts and thought-provoking insight from aerospace experts here in the United States and across the globe. To afford publishing opportunities for thoughtful perspectives, the Forum provides high visibility to writing efforts spanning issues from technology and operational concepts to defense policy and strategy.

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