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Must Have, Must Do: The F-35 "can in no way be considered a luxury," Air Combat Command chief Gen. Michael Hostage said in his speech at AFA's Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. "We must distinguish between the problems caused by a less-than-perfect acquisition record and our national security requirements," observed Hostage. While "we may have some work to do" on getting the F-35 built in an efficient manner, "from an operational perspective" and "based upon initial testing and comprehensive modeling, I am very optimistic that the F-35 will meet its key performance parameters," asserted Hostage during his Feb. 24 address. "I want this system in my arsenal ASAP." He said buying sufficient F-35s is a "national imperative," along with a new long-range strike family of weapons, which he described as "another must-do." The combination will "send a strong strategic message to any strategic adversary and have a moderating influence on their strategic decisions," he said. While it'll be "tempting" in an austere budget to eye cuts to the overall buy of what Hostage called "big-ticket items," he insisted, "we must resist; we must have sufficient numbers to confront regional threats simultaneously, as the new strategy dictates."