Senior US Air Force officials are highlighting the need to divest some legacy platforms that are costly and possibly no longer fit for purpose. Achieving this may prove difficult, as unsuccessful attempts to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II have demonstrated.

The B-1B Lancer is in the firing line and could be retired early. The force is experiencing poor levels of availability and high support costs. USAF/TSgt John Winn

ENSURING ARMED FORCES receive the equipment they need ought to be a relatively simple matter — balancing requirements against what the budget can allow. It seems obvious that the forces themselves are the best initial point of decision-making to determine exactly what is needed, and when. But it’s seldom as simple. Powerful local interests, public affection and even nostalgia can frequently sway decisions and lawmakers, prompting them to fight to fund platforms and capabilities that the military may actually not need, or that they may be happy or even eager to see retired in favor of recapitalization efforts.

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