In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Gen. Mark Welsh, the head of the U.S. Air Force, warns that severe defense budget cuts will impact U.S. air superiority against enemies that the nation may not be thinking about right now.Is there the potential for Russia and China to field air-superiority fighters better than ours? Yes. But what the General is ignoring (for reasons that will become obvious) is that the fault of this lies mostly with the Air Force and the F-35 program. The F-35 is the archetype weapon built by committee. Intended to excel at every role that a fighter/attack craft should perform, it instead has been a disaster at any role. There have been multiple design problems, including that its weapons bay wasn't large enough to contain the weapons it was supposed to use; key bulkheads have not been strong enough and had to be replaced; and it still is incapable of mounting a cannon. Due to its single engine design, it less powerful and slower than the Chinese and Russian craft it will face. It has a shorter range. And the cost! It is overbudget and behind schedule. And because it has sucked in so many resources, it has delayed and used money for other programs.
“China and Russia are two good examples of countries who will be fielding capability in the next three to five years; if they stay on track, that is better than what we currently have in many areas,” Welsh said during a three-day visit to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
“Fighter aircraft in the next three to five years that have more capability than what we currently have sitting on the ramp. The F-35 will stay a generation ahead of them. F-22 will, too. Everything else we have will not stay ahead. The gap has closed.”
There are signs that the even its intended customers are losing faith. Planned foreign orders are declining, as are domestic orders. The Air Force and Navy are both soliciting bids to further extend the usable lifespan of the F-15 and F-18.
It is also worthwhile that the Air Force has essentially become a military branch without a mission. Uninterested in providing air support or the Army, it has fought to eliminate the A-10, but refuses to allow the Army to deploy its own comparable air assets. Its other major purpose was strategic bombing, which has largely disappeared. The Air Force sees its major remaining purpose as air superiority. But what is the point of air superiority except to make strategic bombing and close air support possible?
It isn't just budget cuts, but also irresponsible spending that has endangered our military position.