For an aircraft to fly, it requires three things: lift, thrust and money. Lift and thrust can be designed in – they’re what wings and engines are for – but for any military aircraft, money has to come from the government. The government, in turn, has to get the money from taxpayers.
It’s easy to talk about getting money for airpower. It’s hard to actually get money. Congress decides how much to spend and where it will be spent, even though the Department of Defense submits a detailed annual request, which this year is yet to appear. It is harder still to turn money into airpower represented by aircraft on flight lines, proficient aircrew and combat-capable squadrons. Even the United States, with the world’s largest economy and most capable armed forces, finds it difficult to create and sustain effective airpower.