NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Nearly the entire air staff of the Air Force took to the stage Wednesday to close out the annual Air Force Association conference with a rapid-fire Q&A. Here are some of the highlights:

Stepping up training for Remotely Piloted Aircraft pilots.

"The RPA community has gone through a lot over the last few years," said Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, leader of Air Education and Training Command. "When I first got here [in July 2015] we were training 192 RPA pilots per year, and we have doubled that to 384 pilots per year."

Roberson described a "monumental effort" to double the training pipeline in just 12 months.

"We had to increase the number of simulators, we had to increase the number of facilities," he said. "This is critically important to helping establish the foundation for the RPA community for the United States Air Force."

The new KC-46 Pegasus refueling tanker.

"It definitely is going to provide us enhancement to the strategic agility that we have for our nation," said Gen. Carlton Everhart II, leader of Air Mobility Command,

The new tanker will support not only the nine combatant commanders, but NATO allies as well. Everhart said he thought the planned number of 179 KC-46s is "a start," and added that AMC is also looking to leverage emerging technology.

"I'm looking at the next leap in technology, I'm looking at 20 years down the road," he said. "Where's the next opportunity for investment? … Every about 18 months new capabilities come out, so we're looking at what is going to happen 20 years down the road from now, what does that aircraft look like, what does it have on it?"

Cooperating with industry

Cooperation isn't just about buying things, said Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It's also about partnering with the private sector to develop new capabilities.

"The partnership that I envision with industry, which is incredibly important, is the marriage of new technologies and the changes that they suggest to our organization," he said. "They're about how we bring innovation into the organization, how we infuse it soon enough that we're able to organize around the new technology that industry can bring to use."

"Our history as an Air Force is all about reinventing ourselves around the kinds of technologies that make us successful," Selva continued. "We've got to be good at what we do, but we also have to be willing to experiment with new ideas and risk failure early in the innovation process so we can learn lessons from those experiments."

Increasing tensions in the Pacific

"It drives us to be more operationally focused," said Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of Pacific Air Forces, noting some of the hot spots around the theater.

In the past, it was only the Korean Peninsula – with an often unstable and unpredictable North Korea – where airmen needed to be "ready to go tonight," O'Shaughnessy said. But now that mindset has been applied to the whole AOR.

"You see the airmen all the way across the Pacific - not just on the peninsula - they are ready, they are ready at a moment's notice to respond to whatever the future will bring," he said. "We watching things happening in Korea, we watch the South China Sea, we watch the East China Sea, we see an assertive Russia, we see an assertive China in the area, we need to be ready and we need to have that credibility."

The Enlisted Evaluation System

"Performance influences promotion recommendation," said Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody. "I do believe all airmen have potential. A commander's responsibility has to be to discern amongst that and identify those with the highest potential so we get the order right. That doesn't mean others will not, over time, also advance in promotion. It's about getting the order right."

Restarting the F-22 Raptor production line

While the F-22 is a "fantastic airplane," the money spent on reopening production could best be used in other areas, said Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command.

The primary area where money needs to go towards is acquiring the F-35 Lightning II as quickly as possible, he said.

"The belief in what we see so far is maintaining the buy rate – which is the most important to me right now on the F-35 program – is get the buy rate as high as we possibly can and keep it up so we can start getting the capacity," he said.

Spending money on more F-22s could also stunt investment in the Air Force's next generation of aircraft, Carlisle said.

"If we looked at those costs versus what else we wouldn't be able to do, i.e., keep up the F-35 line or move to what is next in the penetrating counter-air capability … that outweighs the time and the amount of money you would spend reopening an F-22 line," he said.

When airmen should take joint opportunities

Asked whether Reservists should seek joint assignments when they are majors, or wait until they are an O-6 or higher, Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, chief of the Air Force Reserve, said get the experience as soon as you can.

"It's critical to get it the younger you are. It just builds a tremendously capable officer. [It] just brings more diverse experience to your career," she said. "The more you achieve rank, the harder it is to get joint assignments. It's super, super competitive. It's important to get it early."