Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Air Force's Legacy of Innovation and Bold Leadership

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Air Force's Legacy of Innovation and Bold Leadership

Article excerpt

Today, the Department of Defense and its Air Force face the increasingly complex task of ensuring our nation's safety while keeping within the constraints of dramatic budget cuts. This is a challenging time for our country and our military, and as headlines from around the world show, we don't always know where the next crisis will occur.

It is the essence of Air Force culture to look to the future, identify challenges and develop innovative solutions. Only 20 years after the Wright Brothers took their first flight, Air Force forebears in the Army Air Service came up with the idea of aerial refueling by passing fuel from one plane to another using a fire hose. This August, we celebrated the 60th birthday of one of our most accomplished airlifters, the venerable C-130 Hercules. The C- 130 is still in production today, making it one of the longest- serving aircraft in Air Force history and an iconic example of how good ideas never go out of fashion, and can have a profound and enduring impact.

As we look toward our nation's future challenges, we have as much need for innovation now as we ever have. In that vein, Air Mobility Command is bringing our nation's newest tanker, the KC-46A Pegasus, online at a time when world events dramatize the need for a military that can go long distances in a hurry to comfort those in need and, if need be, deter and defeat aggressors.

As innovators, we must strive to unleash the full capability of airplanes like the KC-46 even as we develop the requirements for the next generation of tankers. As we explore future concepts, to include thoughts of a future unmanned aerial refueler, it's not a question of whether we should do this only of when. If we're still doing business 30 years from now the same way we do today, we will have missed the target.

The Air Force's new long-term strategy, "A Call to the Future," outlines just how we must adapt and change if we wish to remain relevant in the decades ahead. …

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