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AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey kicked off National Aerospace Week with her presentation at the Air Force Association’s annual Air & Space Conference on September 17. In her speech, Blakey stressed the importance of the U.S. Air Force to our country and the need to keep our pilots and troops safe by ensuring they are equipped with the most up-to-date technology and capabilities available.
“For the companies of AIA, for those working on the front lines of America’s aerospace and defense industry, supporting the warfighter first and foremost means designing and building the strongest, safest, and most effective military equipment our industry can muster,” said Blakey. “Gear that takes the world’s greatest airmen and women and elevates them into the toughest, most capable, most awesome military force on this planet.”
Blakey expanded on the dire need for replacing a number of aircraft in use since the 1950s. “While there’s almost nothing an Air Force mechanic can’t do, you also know that we can only push those kinds of odds for just so long,” she said.
In her remarks, Blakey noted with the recent shifting of military priorities to the Asia Pacific, America’s air and naval forces are even more critical. One thing that puts this strategy and our forces at risk is the $1 trillion in defense cuts the U.S. defense department is facing come January 2, 2013. Secretary Panetta said sequestration would make this strategy unexecutable. “We would be cutting the very air and naval capability that the strategy requires,” said Blakey. “Instead of building the new capability we need, we’ll lose the capability we have as well.”
Reaffirming the aerospace and defense industry’s unwavering support of the Air Force, Blakey said, “From today’s stealth flight, unmanned systems and global networks, to tomorrow’s cyberweapons, long-range strike bombers and sixth generation fighters – the American aerospace industry is and always will be committed to building and supporting an Air Force that is truly to Second to None.”
Blakey closed her speech urging the audience to take action and do their part in the fight against sequestration by voicing concern to their elected officials. “We don’t want to find ourselves sitting up on January 2, wondering if there’s more we could have done,” said Blakey. “There’s no one right way to fix this problem – there are lots of strong, smart, responsible paths forward. The real danger lies in doing nothing.”
AIA Source: ashley.gudzak[at]aia-aerospace.org