Magazine article National Defense

U.S. Air Force Wants to Strengthen Its Global Reach

Magazine article National Defense

U.S. Air Force Wants to Strengthen Its Global Reach

Article excerpt

The Air Force is developing an innovative concept known as the Global Strike Task Force (GSTF) that could help the United States dramatically reduce its dependence on overseas bases, while increasing its global responsiveness, according to Air Force Gen. John P. Jumper, commander of the Air Combat Command.

The GSTF concept proposes to use a combination of long-range bombers, such as the B-2; new, stealthy fighters, such as the F-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter, and a next-generation transport, called a common widebody aircraft, to strike at targets around the world, Jumper told a recent seminar sponsored by DFI International in Washington, D.C.

GSTF "applies the lessons of the 1990s to counter the emerging anti-access threats of today," Jumper said. Many potentially hostile regimes--unable to defeat U.S. forces in traditional combat--are focusing instead on strategies that keep the United States from deploying its units in a theater of operations, he noted. These include various combinations of ballistic and cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), advanced fighters, sea mines, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

Jumper said that he was particularly concerned about recent models of Russian-built aircraft, which are being sold to other countries. Those aircraft are good, he said. "We get our hands on them, and we test them," he told the seminar. "When our pilots fly them, they are better than our pilots flying our own aircraft.

"Did we skip a generation of technology?" Jumper asked, in an apparent reference to President Bush's campaign pledge to modernize military technology. "You bet, and that's the generation that we skipped."

Such anti-access strategies won't necessarily defeat the United States, Jumper noted, "but we are going to have to deal with them." GSTF offers a strategy for doing that, he said.

In GSTF the B-2s and F-22s would serve as a "kick-down-the door" access force, Jumper explained. The F-22s would clear the way for the B-2s, defeating the enemy's next-generation fighters, SAMs and other air defenses, Jumper said. Then, he added, stealthy B-2 bombers could fly thousands of miles from bases in the United States or other secure locations to hit targets, facing a diminished threat from defenders. …

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