'Our advantage is shrinking': US general says Pentagon must keep up with Russia
General Frank Gorenc, commander of US Air Forces in Europe, said he’s concerned about Moscow's push to increase the quantity and quality of its aircraft and unmanned aircraft, Reuters reported.
"The advantage that we had from the air, I can honestly say, is shrinking," Gorenc said at the annual Air Force Association conference.
He went on to say that Moscow's investments in modernizing its air force and building formidable surface-to-air missile defenses are “alarming” moves.
US officials have often warned of China's developing military technology, particularly those aimed at defending against US stealth fighters and bombers, as well as increasingly capable surface-to-air missiles. But Gorenc says the concern does not just lie with China.
"This is not just a Pacific problem; it is as significant in Europe as it is anywhere else on the planet,” he said. "I don't think it's controversial to say they've closed the gap in capability."
In order to combat the situation, Gorenc said the US Air Force needs to develop new training, tactics, and procedures in order for the country to maintain its military advantage.
The statements come as the US is set to complete the first deployment of an unmanned MA-1 Predator drone in Latvia this week. This is the first such deployment in European airspace.
Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Ministry has repeatedly criticized NATO's military build-up in neighboring states. It said the build-up is taking place “under the false pretext of alleged ‘aggressive behavior’ by our country” and is accompanied by “unfriendly and malicious” rhetoric.
Gorenc said the move could help pave the way for the greater use of drones in Europe. Congested airspace and logistical concerns have limited such opportunities thus far.
Meanwhile, personnel cuts have left the US Air Force undermanned, with service members often working more than 12 hours a day to keep up with the workload, the Air Force Times reported. Congress has refused to approve the Defense Department's request to close unused military bases, which prevents the Air Force from being able to consolidate its service members.