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Senate Committee Approves Air Force Budget Request for F-35; Mark Welsh Comments

WelshThe Senate Appropriations Committee defense subcommittee has approved an Air Force request to continue funding for the $391 billion F-35 fighter jet program, FedScoop reported Thursday.

Cory Bennett writes that the upper chamber panel’s verdict echoes the House Armed Services Committee’s decision.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told the senate that the F-35 plays a key role in the service’s battle readiness.

“The air superiority this nation has enjoyed for 60 years is not an accident, and gaining and maintaining it is not easy,” Welsh said.

F-35Welsh also told the panel that the F-35 program, an update to the Air Force’s aging fleet, will allow the service to keep up with other countries’ technology.

He noted Syria has updated its anti-aircraft equipment and has superior capabilities to what Libya had in 2011. 

Welsh said that Syria is “developing sophisticated, early warning radar systems and employing better surface-to-air missile systems and this at a time when our fighter fleet numbers about 2,000 aircraft and averages a little over 23 years of age — the smallest and the oldest in the Air Force’s history.”

Welsh added that the sequester has hindered the Air Force’s ability for squadrons to fly their aircraft.

“We’ve got folks sitting in fighter squadrons looking out of windows at aircraft that they haven’t touched since the first of April,” he said.

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