Congressional GOP’S Have Questions About Pentagon Calling In Fighter Jets
(RightWing.org) – The US Air Force continually evaluates new aircraft and makes decisions to modernize its fleet. According to Defense News, the military has decided to retire a large number of F-15 fighter jets stationed in Japan that are aging quickly. The Pentagon says it isn’t planning to replace them with new aircraft.
The news comes as North Korea has aggressively fired ballistic missile tests toward Japan. On Friday, November 4, they launched 180 planes near its border with South Korea, causing it to launch 80 fighter jets in response. In addition, China continues to threaten Taiwan, and Russia is at war with Ukraine. On Tuesday, November 1, four Republican senators wrote Secretary of State Lloyd Austin about their concerns about the Pentagon’s plans to retire two squadrons of F-15s in Japan.
Air Force Is Retiring Old Fighters Without Replacements
Defense News said the military is retiring its aging fleet of F-15C Eagles at Kadena Air Base in Japan. Some of the aircraft are nearing 40 years old and are close to the end of their lifespan. Ultimately, the jets could be replaced with F-15EX fighters.
The move comes after Congress authorized the Air Force to retire 48 F-15C and D fighters in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In 2023, it also wants to cut 61 more F-15C, reducing the numbers by half to 107.
The problem is the military has no plans at this time to replace the planes. Instead, they plan to rotate squadrons on a short-term basis between Alaska and Japan. Yet, Defense News noted the Department of Defense (DOD) has yet to decide on a long-term plan for the base’s fighter presence. Still, some are concerned the situation could leave the island nation vulnerable to China and North Korea.
GOP Delegation Express Reservations
On Monday, US Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) penned a letter to Secretary Austin asking him to explain why the Pentagon wasn’t reinforcing the units. They noted China was expanding its influence in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
The elected officials expressed concern the DOD’s action was sending the wrong message to US adversaries in the region. Additionally, they argued the reduction in force would reduce America’s “forward combat power.”
The congressional leaders agreed with the need to modernize the Air Force to combat China, but noted the lack of a permanent presence of fighter jets was concerning. They argued it would create a lack of deterrence to prevent the communist country from invading Taiwan.
So, will Austin respond to the letter and the concerns? We’ll find out.
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