Budget battles now threatening U.S. defense needs

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Joe Biden arrives to deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy class of 2024, Saturday, May 25, 2024, in West Point, New York. (Official White House photo by Erin Scott)
Joe Biden arrives to deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy class of 2024, Saturday, May 25, 2024, in West Point, New York. (Official White House photo by Erin Scott)

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Wire.]

By Paul Korkemaz
Real Clear Wire

The rise and intensity in international conflict raises alarm bells here on American soil. Tensions in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Asia are complicating foreign policy and budget priorities in Washington, D.C. While U.S. military prowess has been regarded as the best in the world since World War II and many crises after, it seems as if that perception is being taken for granted. Congress is scaling back critical defense programs at a time when adversarial nations have ramped up their own armed forces to threaten our global interests.

In a series of in-depth reports on the future of warfare, the Rand Corporation predicted that “the Joint Force will likely face multiple types of conflict, each requiring different capabilities, even as its ability to sustain a quantitative or even qualitative edge over adversaries will likely decline.”

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) also released a lengthy detailed report last fall, outlining the increasing threats posed by the adversarial nations. The report notes that in addition to bolstering its space, strategic nuclear, cybersecurity, and naval operations, adversaries are investing in their air forces. At a time when U.S. military action seems inevitable, lawmakers should be focused on building our defense capabilities, not weakening them. Per the report to meet future demands, the Joint Force and specifically the U.S. Air Force (USAF) “will need to invest in more precision… build additional capacity; maintain a robust forward posture; and reinforce agility at all levels of warfare.”

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With that in mind, there’s no question that lawmakers need to increase funding for the F-15EX. I worked on the F-15 program for 7 years and have seen and followed its advancement first-hand. Its technology continues to evolve, ensuring it is on the cutting edge of today’s military challenges. Its digitalization and open missions systems ensure that it can adapt to the constantly changing landscape of combat without sacrificing safety or capability. It’s also reliable in both functionality and mature in production, which is increasingly important considering the Air Force’s current capability shortfalls.

USAF has reduced its F-15EX procurement from 144 aircraft to 104 due to increasing budget pressure. This is happening simultaneously with the retirements of several Air Force programs, including the F-15 C and D models. USAF is facing a dangerous aircraft shortfall, specifically among fighter jets, which amplifies the idea that America’s competitive edge is fading. However, continued investment in additional F-15EXs can fill those critical gaps quickly due to its established production line, immediate availability, and the ease of transition for pilots, maintenance crews, and other military personnel.

What more proof does Congress need to invest in a proven platform like the F-15 EX? Now is not the time to scale back critical defense spending or allow partisan division to stand in the way of making sound decisions on behalf of national security. The United States has long stood as the bastion of freedom with the strongest military in the world. We cannot allow our defenses to fall behind the global curve, especially at this moment in time when so much is at stake.


Paul “Korky” Korkemaz is a former Operations Analyst at McDonnell Douglas. He worked on the Advanced F-15 program and served in program management roles as an executive at Honeywell and Sabre Systems.

This article was originally published by RealClearDefense and made available via RealClearWire.

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