The U.S. Force is about to get even bigger. When speaking in front of Congress, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, along with Chief of Staff David Goldfein, said that the Air Force needs to expand its size by nearly one-quarter of its current size to achieve the goals and objectives outlined by the administration. This would essentially increase the total number of squadrons in the Air Force’s active fleet from 312 to 386.
Of course, the United States already has the world’s largest Air Force. According to Wikipedia, the U.S. Air Force currently operates with more than 318,000 personnel, 140,000 full-time employees, 69,000 reserve personnel, 105,000 air guard personnel, 5,000 manned aircraft, 306 ICBMs and 170 satellites. With an annual budget of $161 billion, it’s the second-largest service branch of all military branches.
You might be surprised to learn that the United States also has the second-largest air force as well. While the U.S. Air Force is the world’s largest military air force, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, when combined, are the world’s second-largest air force.
Nonetheless, Air Force officials say they need more squadrons to protect the country from rising threats. An article published by CNN suggests that the Air Force wants to purchase more long-range bombers, fighter jets and refueling tankers, with a projected date of completion set for 2030.
When speaking about the proposed size increase, Heather Wilson said that the Air Force’s current 312 operational squadrons is simply not enough to achieve the goals and objectives outlined by the administration. Therefore, it’s asking for a budget increase so that it can expand the size of squadrons to 386 — almost a one-quarter increase in the Air Force’s total squadron size.
Among the most notable upgrades for which the Air Force is asking involves long-range bomber squadrons. The U.S. Air Force currently has nine long-range bomber squadrons. Under this proposal, it’s requesting to increase this number to 14. That, of course, would be a substantial improvement to one of the Air Force’s most powerful assets. Other requests included in the Air Force’s upgrade proposal include 14 new refueling tanker squadrons, two new drone squadrons, seven new fighter jet squadrons and nine new search rescue squadrons.
“These observations are not new or novel. Defense leaders have understood these factors for a long time. What is different about Secretary Wilson’s outlined approach is her willingness to put the Air Force’s challenges on the table so that Congress and others can understand the risk and prioritize necessary solutions,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula.