U.S. Air Forces Imperiled by Potential Budget Cuts

August 29, 2011

The Washington Times published an important op-ed about national security today by Brig. Gen. Thomas C. Pinckney (USAF, Ret.) who argued that mandatory budget cuts from a supercommittee deadlock would excessively cut spending on Americas next generation fighter, the F-35. Pinckney makes the correct point that American military success since Vietnam has depended greatly on air superiority and fighter dominance in our diverse wars. He talks about how our fighter fleet is aging and many countries are beginning to catch up. Here are two stunning paragraphs:

Today, countries including Iran, North Korea and Pakistan have fighter jets that match the capabilities of the workhorses of the U.S. fighter fleet, which were designed during the 1970s. The Indian air force surprised many by defeating American fighters during recent war games. Russia and China are developing fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft that will rival our most advanced fighter jets.

Even small countries can create a formidable air force on the cheap by buying Soviet-made MiG-21s on the global weapons market for the low cost of $100,000 each, upgrading the engines and avionics and outfitting them with self-guided missiles. Coupled with ever-more sophisticated anti-aircraft batteries, determined despots the world over could soon be capable of shooting down any American fighter jet that dares enter their airspace.

I hadnt heard about the war games with India. I find it alarming that we would lose war games to any nation, but India is not known for being a military titan. I guess it is changing with China so close, but this is not an encouraging sign.

Americas military families give us their best, and they deserve our best. We are spending nothing like the share of GDP that we did on defense during the Cold War, we can afford to purchase air superiority for our air, sea, and land forces. And, while we are at it lets bring the F-22.