Threats to Air Supremacy

Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies Releases New Video: Threats to Air Supremacy, 2018

ARLINGTON, Va (January 4, 2018) — Today, the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies unveiled a new video entitled, “Threats to Air Supremacy, 2018” at the US Capital. After the video, the Dean of the Mitchell Institute, Lt Gen David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret.) moderated a panel to discuss its implications with Lt Gen Chris Nowland, deputy chief of staff for Air Force Operations; and Lt Gen “Dash” Jamieson, the chief of Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.

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Air Superiority is a fundamental tenet of US security operations. Military operations cannot succeed unless we have it. However, in terms of quantity of aircraft, the USAF has been on a downslide for over 25 years now. Today the Air Force has 59 percent fewer fighter squadrons than during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 (134 in 1991, 55 today). It has 30 percent fewer people, and 37 percent fewer total aircraft.

At the same time, the Air Force is operating a geriatric force that’s becoming more so every day. Bombers and tankers over 50 years of age, trainers over 40, fighters and helicopters over 30. So not only has our air superiority force suffered a decline in quantity, it’s taking a hit in quality as well.

The Air Force has been at war not just since 9/11, but since 1991. The result of 27 years of continuous combat operations coupled with budget instability, and lower-than-planned budgets, is an Air Force that is the smallest, the oldest, and the least ready in its history. It’s one thing to get smaller with a more ready force, but today the AF is both smaller and the least ready force it’s ever been.

Over the next decade and a half, the United States is at risk of losing its ability to control the air domain in combat. Budget pressures have forced delays in key investments while our adversaries continue to advance. The bottom line is the historical US claim to air superiority is increasingly in jeopardy, and the video you are about to see provides the facts and context to illustrate the precarious situation our military air forces now find themselves.

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