General says USAF Spec. Ops. must “ruthlessly” cut legacy systems

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Photo: A Pilatus PC-12 from the 318th Special Operations Squadron practices touch-and-go maneuvers at Truth or Consequences, N.M., January 24, 2019. The 318th Squadron primarily flies with the U-28A aircraft, however they use the PC-12 as a practice aircraft. (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Vernon R. Walter III)

The US Air Force is pressuring its Special Operations Command to adapt to tighter budgets as America prepares to deal with the possibility of war with near-peer threats.

As potential conflict with China or Russia becomes a reality, AFSOC commander Lt. Gen. James Slife made it clear that some aspects of special warfare are going to have to make do with less.

“One thing that’s clear to us is that the future doesn’t look a lot like the present to us,” Slife said. “The only conclusion one can come to is we have to stop doing some stuff.”

The first victims would likely be legacy systems that have had long service lifespans, to include the unarmed U-28A Draco, a modified, single-engine Pilatus PC-12 used by AFSOC for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

According to Yahoo! News, such aircraft could be replaced with armed drones that would sport a longer loiter time and have weapons to bear should the need arise.

“We have to look ruthlessly at what we have been doing and what we’re going to be required to do and make the trade to position ourselves for the future,” Slife said.

In the end, trade-offs may be made, particularl when it comes to supporting or being supported by other branches.

“We need to return to being a supporting force to the larger joint enterprise and, for me, that means the US Air Force. That’s probably the area that’s attracting more of my attention than anything else right now,” Slife said.

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