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Want to Beat China or Russia in a War? Dump the Obsolete Planes.

Air Force Russia War
Image: Creative Commons picture of A-10 Warthog.

Frank Kendall was sworn in as Air Force Secretary in August, after he was nominated by President Joe Biden in April and a trio of Senators eventually lifted their previous holds on his nomination. Kendall supervises both the Air Force and Space Force.

On Monday, Kendall made the first public speech of his tenure, at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

According to Defense News, Secretary Kendall made one thing clear to Congress: That there are some aircraft that need to be retired, to make room for the next generation, including drones and other tech of the present and future. And this is true even for the aircraft made in the districts of those members of Congress.

“I have one request of the Congress: help us to focus on the one fight — the strategic competitive fight — we must win,” Kendall said in the speech, per the report.

“We will not succeed against a well-resourced and strategic competitor if we insist on keeping every legacy system we have,” he said. “Our one team cannot win its one fight to deter China or Russia without the resources we need and a willingness to balance risk today to avoid much greater risk in the future,’ Kendall said.

“I do understand the political constraints here, and I’m happy to work with Congress to find a better mechanism to make the changes we need, but we must move forward,” he added in the speech.

During the Obama Administration, the government tried to retire whole fleets of aircraft, although, in more recent years, the Air Force has put forward proposals to retire only some parts of types of aircraft. Kendall, who served in the Obama Administration, called on Congress to get speed up the retirement of “aircraft that we no longer need and that do not intimidate China.”

“It was a frequent occurrence during my confirmation process to have a senator agree with me about the significance of the Chinese threat, and in the same breath to tell me that under no circumstances could the — take your pick — C-130s, A-10s, KC-10s, [or] MQ-9s in that senator’s state be retired, nor could any base in his or her state ever be closed or lose manpower that would cause impact to the local economy,” Kendall said in the speech at the conference.

Kendall had said in the same speech that he continues to see China as the biggest threat to the U.S.

“So what are my intentions now that I have this job? At a breakfast on Capitol Hill shortly after I was sworn in, I was asked by Sen. Jon Tester what my priorities were. My answer was that I had three; China, China, and China,” he said.

 Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Talltexan

    September 25, 2021 at 9:55 am

    Great writing job Stephen Silver. Your story flows so smoothly from one paragraph to the next. I have only been an aspiring writer during my elder years, and you certainly have set a bench-mark for many to follow. This article is my first to read of your writing. Hope it is not the last.

  2. 44giarc

    September 26, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    If we accept that something is better than nothing, we should keep the current inventory of planes until the next generation is built, flight tested , and ready for production. It’s silly to retire existing planes without replacements coming online now. Instead ask congress for the funds to keep the current planes flying until the next generation is actually available.

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