Chairman Frelinghuysen: Air Force Modernization Must Not be Deferred

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) told the senior leadership of the U.S. Air Force today that modernization of Air Force platforms and weapons systems cannot be deferred.  “We now have the oldest Air Force aircraft in history and the smallest Air Force in years and we must recognize that our adversaries are closing the technological gap.

At a public hearing in the U.S. Capitol, Chairman Frelinghuysen told Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force, and General Mark Welsh, “ while you are necessarily focusing on the threats posed by ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban, Russia and China are racing ahead to modernize and build front-line air forces.  Consequently, we must continue efforts to maintain our current air power edge.”

The Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing was conducted against the backdrop of increasing threats.  “The Chinese Air Force, the third largest Air Force in the world, is rapidly closing the gap with ours across a broad spectrum of capabilities: quality of their aircraft, command and control, radar, electronic warfare, and data links. China also possesses one of the largest forces of advanced long-range surface-to-air missiles in the world and some pretty sophisticated space infrastructure.  Russia is procuring new Su-35S Flanker fighters and developing the fifth generation PAK FA stealth fighter.  The Kremlin also plans to build 56 long-range advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile battalions.  Elsewhere,  Iran and other nations are working to buy additional advanced air defense systems from Russia.” 

Members of the Subcommittee covered many other issues with the Air Force, including, assured U.S. access to space, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the future Long Range Strike Bomber program, the size of the Air Force and its readiness, among other topics.

Today’s hearing was the latest in a series of open defense posture and budget oversight hearings Chairman Frelinghuysen is conducting with the military services, combatant commands and other major components of our armed forces.