A military expert believes that the U.S. Air Force needs to increase the number of fighters and bombers to deter potential adversaries.
In a column for Defense News, retired U.S. Marine Corps officer Scott Cooper said the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II fighter jet is a major deterrent to Russia and China.
“Congress recognizes that the F-35 is the cornerstone of deterrence in the great power competition we face as a nation,” Cooper said, referring to the 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy.
In most previous conflicts in which America has been involved, he said, the latter have “enjoyed the luxury of maintaining air superiority” from the very beginning of hostilities.
“That wouldn’t happen in any conflict with Russia or China. In fact, this would not even be the case in a conflict with Syria with the anti-aircraft defense (air defense) capabilities of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system,” the author notes.
According to the expert, the U.S. Air Force should increase the number of low-observable fighters and strategic bombers that will be able to overcome enemy air defenses to deter potential adversaries.
“We’ve gone from an Air Force that had 4,468 fighters and 331 bombers in 1987 to a force that now has 1,481 fighters and 122 bombers,” Cooper said.