Each passing month, the United States falls dangerously behind in preparation to meet increasing global threats, warns U.S. Rep. Kay Granger from Texas.

With an ever more dangerous and less certain world, maintaining air superiority is the key to success in any future conflict, writes the Republican chair of the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations in an op-ed piece for the Aerospace/Defense Special Edition of the Washington Times.

Granger says the current 4th Generation fighters, or “legacy fleet,” are simply insufficient to engage Russia and China in possible future conflicts.

Our fleet of F-15s, F-16s, AV-8s, A-10s and F/A-18s, are aging rapidly, while both air-to-air and air-to-ground threats escalate at a similar pace. In addition, cutbacks have reduced the 5th Generation F-22 fighters to 187 planes, ensuring America’s lack of airpower to meet demands.

According to Granger, America owes it to our children and grandchildren to remain the best-equipped and strongest nation, as a way to preserve peace and prosperity. She calls for the continued development of the U.S. F-35 stealth fighter, to compete with similar technology currently under development by China and Russia. 

Russia is actively developing its version of the stealth fighter to sell on the world market — the PAK/FA T-50. China is doing the same with its own J-20 and J-31 prototypes.

The advanced technology of the F-35 stealth can be the cornerstone of a family of fighters, including the F-22, which will provide essential air support for ground troops, or for attacking distant targets.

Eight American allies have agreed to cooperate in the Defense Department’s F-35 program: the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway. They have indicated plans to buy more than 700 F-35 aircraft, with the UK purchasing 138 alone. This participation can keep the entire program affordable, giving the U.S. a distinct advantage over Russia and China.

“U.S. and allied air superiority can no longer be taken for granted,” Granger says. “If we hold fast together, the F-35, along with the F-22, will provide dominance in the skies for the next half-century.”