The US Air Force has been hitting jihadi forces in Syria and Iraq so hard that it's depleting its weapons stores. Over 20,000 bombs and missiles have been dropped or fired since the campaign started 15 months ago, but the pace has left weapons supplies "below our desired objective," officials told CNN.
"B-1s have dropped bombs in record numbers. F-15Es are in the fight because they are able to employ a wide range of weapons and do so with great flexibility. We need the funding in place to ensure we're prepared for the long fight," USAF Gen. Mark Welsh said in a statement obtained by CNN. "This is a critical need."
CNN reports that Air Force officials have requested additional funds to buy more laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and are pushing suppliers to increase production. But one official told CNN that restocking could take up to four years, from the time cash changes hands to actual weapon delivery.
Gen. Welsh was quick to point out that the current weapon shortage isn't affecting the Air Force's current operations against ISIS, but it could pose a threat to future campaigns. According to Military.com, the USAF still has 142,000 smart bombs and 2,300 Hellfire missiles.
"We are able to manage inventories to sustain operations against ISIL at this time," Gen. Welsh said. "We do need funding in place and the ability to forecast for production to be ready for the long fight... We continue to work on a longer term funding strategy which is absolutely required."