Air Force Shelving Fighters, Increasing UAVs
As noted in a variety of sources, the Air Force is instituting the previously declared drawdown in frontline fighters. It is “retiring” 250 fighters across several platforms, including nearly 100 F-16s.
By contrast, it was already common knowledge that the Air Force’s most recent budget had emphasized UAVs over manned fighters. The Air Force Times concludes that “by the end of the year” USAF UAV pilots will outnumber F-16 pilots. Presumably, these UAV operators will primarily control Reapers, Predators, and Global Hawks. F-16s were previously the largest manned major fighter weapon system in the Air Force.