Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pretty, But Pretty Useless

It's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of the current administration, but it seems like defense secretary Gates has got his priorities straight. He is seeking to curtail production of advanced fighter aircraft like the F-22 and focus on the needs of immediate conflicts, which run more to UAVs and transport aircraft.
Gates has often singled out the cutting-edge Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor as a prime example of what he deemed misplaced military priorities. "The reality is we are fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater," Gates told a Senate committee in February.

Gates sacked current air force head General Mosely and his suggested replacement will be the first head of the air force in 25 years who is not a former fighter pilot.

Like most large institutions, the Air Force fights for its own aggrandizement rather than looking to the good of the whole, and is actively trying to increase the amount of porkfunding going its way. But the reality on the ground is that the Air Force is increasing irrelevant for modern conflicts -- airpower over the battlefield is most likely to come from a carrier, or from ground-support aircraft like the A-10 or attack helicopters (which the Air Force hate). Strategic bombing is passe for modern low-intensity conflicts, our nuke inventory is being gradually reduced, and cyberwarfare is much-hyped but of improbable use on an actual battlefield. So the Air Force needs to find a new mission or risk being downsized into a military version of UPS.

Would that be a bad thing? Perhaps not.

No comments: