U.S. Air Force Goes Into Overdrive As War With China Looms Nearer
(DailyDig.com) – As time goes on, technology changes. As new technology surfaces it transforms and shapes the battlefield. In World War I, tanks made all the difference and changed the way countries prepared for battle; World War II ended with the use of nuclear warheads. Despite having cutting-edge technology, the US Air Force (USAF) believes it needs to improve in order to fight more advanced adversaries in future conflicts, particularly China and Russia. Even so, these technological advancements cost money, which creates new problems.
The USAF and American military easily enjoyed air-superiority during its decades-long war in the Middle East. Against a threat like China or Russia, the air space would be far more contested, giving the USAF all the reason it requires to develop and implement new technology. In order for that to happen, it needs to convince Congress and dispossess older tech.
Defense News reported that the USAF has devised a two-stage plan. First, it would divest from older platforms and airframes to open funding for investing in new advanced airframes and modernizing its fleet. That’s the short-term plan, anyway, laying the foundation for other, longer-term changes. Over the long haul, the USAF plans to develop sixth-generation fighters and remove the need for manned aircraft to fly into dangerous zones through the use of autonomous unmanned systems.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has opened many eyes to the fact that a conflict involving world powers could be closer than America expected. In other words, time is running out. The Pentagon fears the United States could be at war with China faster than officials had anticipated, but there are several obstacles the USAF needs to overcome before it can begin making necessary changes.
USAF Secretary Frank Kendall believes they need to focus on making transformational advances rather than focusing on evolutionary ones in order to deal with the threats the US faces in the modern era.
The USAF can’t do anything, including retiring old aircraft and investing in new ones, without first obtaining approval from Congress. Right now, Defense News states the USAF has 150 retirements planned for the 2023 fiscal year. There’s no guarantee Congress will allow such a divestment. Their approval is also necessary for obtaining the desired amount of funding and easing up on the limits of aircraft quantities.
While Congress is seemingly always open to improving the USAF’s capabilities, it wants to ensure the service doesn’t create any gaps in those capabilities. In other words, it doesn’t want to retire anything if the USAF doesn’t have a replacement ready and waiting to take its place.
Not only do USAF officials have to convince members of Congress this change is necessary, but they’ll need to deal with technical hurdles as well. Their future plans are ambitious, and it will take time to develop the necessary technology to see advancements come to fruition, likely another wild card for congressional approval. With that said, the USAF is right, it does need to update its fleet; for over 20 years in the Middle East, the US military enjoyed having technological superiority. It will need to step up its game if it wants to keep up with Russia and China.
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