Thursday, June 4, 2009

Combat Air Forces restructuring plan

by Air Force News Service
917th Wing Public Affairs Office

6/2/2009 - Barksdale AFB, LA -- An Air Force plan to retire legacy fighters to fund a smaller and more capable force and redistribute people for higher-priority missions will impact two Air Force Reserve A-10 units.

Under the combat air forces restructuring plan, announced in May, the 442nd Fighter Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., will lose three aircraft. In addition, plans to provide three more A-10s to the 917th Wing at Barksdale AFB, La., have been cancelled. These six aircraft, along with those from three other units, will be used in transitioning the Air National Guard Unit at Ft. Wayne, Ind., from F-16s to 18 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs.

Overall, in addition to the shifting of these aircraft, the CAF restructuring plan would accelerate the retirement of approximately 134 F-16s, 112 F-15s and three A-10s. This does not include the five fighters previously scheduled for retirement in Fiscal Year 2010.

"We have a strategic window of opportunity to do some important things with fighter aircraft restructuring," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley. "By accepting some short-term risk, we can convert our inventory of legacy fighters and F-22 (Raptors) into a smaller, more flexible and lethal bridge to fifth-generation fighters like the F-35 (Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter). We'll also add manpower to capabilities needed now for operations across the spectrum of conflict."

Under the plan, cost savings of $355 million in FY 10 and $3.5 billion over the next five fiscal years would be used to reduce current capability gaps. Air Force officials would invest most of the funds in advanced capability modifications to remaining fighters and bombers. Some money would go toward procuring munitions for joint war fighters, including the small diameter bomb, hard-target weapons and the AIM-120D and AIM-9X missiles. The remainder would be dedicated to the procurement or sustainment of critical intelligence capabilities such as the advanced targeting pod as well as enabling technologies for tactical air controllers and special operations forces.

"We've taken this major step only after a careful assessment of the current threat environment and our current capabilities," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. "Make no mistake, we can't stand still on modernizing our fighter force. The Air Force's advantage over potential adversaries is eroding, and this endangers both air and ground forces alike unless there is a very significant investment in bridge capabilities and fifth-generation aircraft. CAF restructuring gets us there."

The CAF restructuring plan, which will require appropriate environmental analyses, would enable Air Force officials to use reassignment and retraining programs to move approximately 4,000 active-duty manpower authorizations to emerging and priority missions such as manned and unmanned surveillance operations and nuclear deterrence operations.

This realignment would include the expansion of MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper and MC-12 Liberty aircrews; the addition of a fourth active-duty B-52 Stratofortress squadron; and the expansion of Distributed Common Ground System and information processing, exploitation and dissemination capabilities for continued combatant commander support in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other adjustments.

Air Force officials said no bases will close as a result of the CAF restructuring. (Air Force News Service and Staff Reports)


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