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We own the skies or who owns the skies?

 The last air to air combat we had was during Desert Storm and that was more of an air to air ass-whipping. We have taken complete air dominance as a given for quite a while. Now that the defense budget has a lot of folks looking at it like a cash cow or an ox nobody minds goring, that is at risk of changing. We have been working for quite a while to replace our fighters and that costs a lot of money. When Congress starts looking for places to cut, they can always find some people willing to say the Pentagon should hold bake sales to fund itself. It is pretty easy to get sticker shock when you start pricing out brand spanking new fighter jets. It is more important to think about strategic shock when we can no longer count on our military being able to own the airspace over our troops.

Well Vlad the Impaler is back running things in Russia, actually he never really stopped, and they are certainly not ceding the air to us.

RIA Novosti reported last week that Russia’s next-generation long-range bomber, the PAK DA, will start arriving in 2020, and not 2025, as initially planned. In addition, Russia’s three other types of strategic bombers, which currently can carry a total of 850 long-range cruise missiles, are all scheduled for modernization. Last year, Russia began test flights of its new stealth fighter, the PAK FA, which is being co-produced with India. All this is a reminder that America’s air supremacy, which has been largely uncontested at least since the Soviet Union collapsed back in 1991, will be coming under increasing pressure. China is also modernizing and expanding its fleet of fighters and ground-attack jets, and by most estimates has a decided advantage over Taiwan and possibly even Japan.

It may or may not make you nervous to have the Russians and the Chinese building aircraft that can challenge us. But they are, and they have been pushy enough without them. The mighty reset button seems to have reset things in Syria back to the Cold War as the Russians send warships to support a proxy.

MOSCOW — Russia said on Tuesday that it had dispatched a flotilla of 11 warships to the eastern Mediterranean, some of which would dock in Syria. It would be the largest display of Russian military power in the region since the Syrian conflict began almost 17 months ago. Nearly half of the ships were capable of carrying hundreds of marines.

I wish we lived in a peaceful Shangri-La where unicorns frolicked and the earth flowed with the milk of human kindness. But we don't. I know it has been a hard decade of war and it would be wonderful to sit in the shade and watch the kids play in the sprinkler for a while. It would also be nice to take the money we will spend on those fighters and blow it on algae farms (well not really). But that would be a dereliction of the duty to first and foremost keep ourselves and our country safe. It would also be a job-killing gut punch to the hundreds of thousands of folks who work in the defense industry. When the world dials 911, the phone rings at the Pentagon. If we don't have the weapons we need to roll out, then bad things will happen.So we need to buy fighters, and aircraft carriers and new uniforms and bullets and all the rest. If they want to balance the budget, they need to look at the grotesque tentacles of Leviathan called Entitlements. The very idea that people are entitled to anything but air and opportunity is un-American.

So why you ask is noted knuckle-dragging, land ape Uncle J saying nice things about fighters? Well aside from the fact that I think it is nice that our troops aren't ducking into foxholes to avoid strafing runs, I took a trip to Lockheed Martin's F-35 simulator land today. A number of military writers and bloggers got a brief on the status of the F-35 program and also a chance to buzz the tower. The bottom line is that the birds are being delivered, they work and if our enemies try to raise up against them, we will strike them down with great vengeance and furious anger. Ooops that was Pulp Fiction, I meant we will hit the brakes, they will fly right by us we will get a good lock and SPLASH and then the remaining MIGs will bug out.

Here is what happens when you take a state of the art fighter and turn it over to a Special Forces Weapons guy. I feel the need, the need for speed.

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