Welsh, who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1976, is concerned about the future.

In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Gen. Mark Welsh, the head of the U.S. Air Force, warns that severe defense budget cuts will impact U.S. air superiority against enemies that the nation may not be thinking about right now.

“China and Russia are two good examples of countries who will be fielding capability in the next three to five years; if they stay on track, that is better than what we currently have in many areas,” Welsh said during a three-day visit to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

“Fighter aircraft in the next three to five years that have more capability than what we currently have sitting on the ramp. The F-35 will stay a generation ahead of them. F-22 will, too. Everything else we have will not stay ahead. The gap has closed.”

Until the first night of the air war against ISIS in Syria last October, the F-22 had never been used in combat. It’s stealth, flies nearly twice the speed of sound and Fox News has since learned the F-22 has led nearly every air combat mission over Syria since.

“I think we saw a lot of what the F-22 can do, but you certainly didn’t see all it can do,” Welsh said.

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