The Air Force wants to make sure it maintains its close air support capability and culture well into the future even as it transitions more aircraft and units to a multi-purpose mission set, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Deale, director of operations at Air Combat Command Headquarters on Thursday. That’s why the Air Force decided to stand up the CAS Integration Group at Nellis AFB, Nev., to serve as the service’s center of excellence and single point of contact for all close air support issues. In addition, USAF also must develop “weapons that are uniquely effective in the close air support environment,” including “precision and lethality, with low collateral damage, and/or frag patterns so we can employ in close proximity to friendly forces,” said Deale. The Air Force also needs “deeper magazines” so it can better conduct the close air support mission. “The A-10 carries 1,150 rounds. We need something that carries three or four thousand rounds, whether that be shifting to directed energy or other type of munitions,” he added.
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The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act, released by the committee late Thursday, would provide for $715.9 billion in spending, according to a summary produced by the committee.
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