Since taking his post as Air Force secretary over the summer, Frank Kendall has identified China as his top priority and touted the development of advanced weaponry to counter Beijing. On Saturday, Kendall said the Air Force should retire old aircraft that wouldn’t be useful in a conflict with China.
“If it doesn’t threaten China, why are we doing it?” Kendall said at the Reagan National Defense Forum. Kendall mentioned some aircraft he thinks have to go, including some C-130 cargo planes, the A-10 Warthog, and the MQ-9 Reaper drone, which has been used to carry out drone strikes across the Middle East over the past two decades.
Kendall said China has been focusing on its own modernization efforts to counter advanced US assets. The aging warplanes, Kendall said, is an “anchor holding back the Air Force.”
With the Pentagon now focused on China, it’s common for US military leaders to hype up Beijing’s capabilities to justify more spending. Back in August, Kendall said he would like to see the military develop the types of weapons that would “scare China” and pointed to the B-21, a heavy bomber that is currently being developed by Northrop Grumman.
“I think that’s going to be something that will be intimidating, it’s going to be very capable. And there are a few others like that that are coming down the pipeline,” Kendall said of the B-21. “But I think we have to be continuously thinking about other things that will be intimidating to our future enemies.”