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US Air Force chief’s top modernization priorities aren’t what you think they are

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force is spending tens of billions of dollars every year to buy new aircraft, including F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, KC-46 tankers, the T-7A trainer jet and more. But none of those platforms makes the list of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown’s top three modernization priorities.

“In some cases, I’m not so much enamored with airplanes, although, you know, I flew airplanes,” Brown said during a Nov. 12 interview where Defense News asked him to list his top three weapons priorities for the Air Force.

“It’s really the capability” that matters, he said. “And as we look at, you know, future conflicts, we may be fighting differently. I don’t know that for a fact. But when I came in, cyber wasn’t a thing. Now it is. Space was a benign environment. Now, not as much.

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The Air Force Plans to Retrain Weapons System Officers to Be B-21 Bomber Pilots

As the U.S. Air Force prepares to bring the next-generation stealth bomber into its inventory over the next two decades, it plans to slash the number of weapons system officers by as much as half to make room for more pilots, according to a top general.

Though the service has not announced exactly how many B-21 Raiders it expects to purchase, it will no longer need as many WSOs — commonly referred to as “wizzos” — the aircrew who manage the delivery of bombs as well as intelligence-gathering sensors. It plans to retrain them to become pilots in the years ahead, according to Maj. Gen. Mark E. Weatherington, 8th Air Force commander.

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