According to a study by the Washington-based think-tank American Enterprise Institute, the US Air Force (USAF) does not have enough stealth aircraft to launch a powerful first wave strike and wage an effective air campaign against China or North Korea.
The F-22 fighter and B-2 bombers are the only aircraft that could penetrate China’s sophisticated air defence system or undertake operations against North Korea. The B-2 has been out of production for more than a decade. As such, combat losses cannot be replaced. The study recommends that US government needs to make substantial investments into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme, the KC-46 tanker, the next-generation bomber, F-22 modernisation and “long-range, low-observable, carrier-based strike platforms.” Said USAF spokesperson Ann Stefaniak “With the DoD strategic shift to focus on the Asia-Pacific region while continuing its focus on the Middle East and adapting to an evolving strategic posture in Europe, the Air Force is emphasising the increasing importance of global power projection and is posturing for the future in a way that maintains our ability to be agile, flexible and ready to engage a full range of contingencies and threats.”