US Air Force must grow to check Russia, China, branch secretary says

U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson on Monday said the service will need to significantly expand by the year 2030 to meet its defense obligations and check the military ambitions of Russia and China , according to a report.

Based on early projections for defense requirements from 2025 to 2030, the Air Force will need to add roughly 40,000 servicemen and women in order to meet a goal for 386 active operational squadrons. While Wilson did not provide estimates for cost, Reuters estimated the expansion would likely cost billions of dollars toward new hires and equipment.

“The Air Force is too small for what the nation is asking us to do,” Wilson told reporters, according to Reuters.

Wilson said the estimates would be subject to further analysis and change. If the growth projections hold, the U.S. Air Force would have nearly as many operational squadrons as it did during the Cold War.

Aside from additional bomber squadrons and refuel tankers, Wilson said the Air Force would have to enhance its cyber warfare and nuclear capabilities, NPR reported.

U.S. Air Force representatives did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for further detail on a possible expansion of the branch.

President Donald Trump has prioritized military spending to modernize the country’s armed forces and nuclear arsenal. Trump also supports the creation of a sixth military branch, dubbed the “Space Force.”

In a Sept. 14 memo, Wilson estimated that it would cost about $13 billion over five years to launch a Space Force, including $3.3 billion in the first year.