Air Force Considering Cutting Entire Fleets

With the huge budget cuts still in place and the Air Force's desire to maintain existing procurement projects (e.g. the F-35), the Air Force is considering cutting entire fleets of certain aircraft for the coming fiscal year.

According to the article from some of the potential candidates for cutting include the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the KC-10 tanker, the F-15C air-superiority fighter, and a planned purchase of a new combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter.

According to Gen. Mark Welsh, USAF Chief of Staff: "You can cut aircraft from a fleet, but you save a lot more money if you cut all the infrastructure that supports the fleet." When asked directly about the A-10 fleet, he declined comment on specific aircraft.

These cuts are not going to be easy, however. The A-10, which is flown by USAF Active duty, Reserve, and Air National Guard, has significant support in Congress and from governors of states with A-10 squadrons. The KC-10 is the workhorse of the USAF's refueling fleet, and is a surprise on the list, due to its young age. With the acquisition of the new F-22 Raptor fighter, the single-role F-15C may be seen as an unnecessary expense in the current budget.

The Air Force’s 2015 spending plan is due to the Office of the Secretary of Defense the week of Sept. 23, although in the end Congress will have the final word.