Air Force’s Fiscal 2020 Budget Focuses On Modernization, Readiness, Confronting Global Threats
(Source: US Air Force; issued March 12, 2019)
After months of rumors and contradictory reports, Boeing’s F-15X Eagle has finally been confirmed as the USAF is cutting eight F-35As from its FY2020 budget request and will instead buy eight single-seat F-15X at a similar unit cost. (Boeing photo)
ARLINGTON, Va. --- The Air Force’s budget would rise to $165 billion in fiscal year 2020 under the White House spending plan unveiled March 12, a $10 billion increase that allows the service to grow, modernize and effectively adapt to an array of changing global threats.

As written, the proposed budget attaches numbers to larger strategic goals that include the need to meet challenges posed by China and a resurgent Russia, provide a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent while continuing to disrupt violent extremists in a cost-effective manner.

The spending plan provides funding for the Air Force to continue restoring readiness with special attention on training, maintenance, spare parts and flying hours.

The proposed budget for fiscal 2020 provides money to modernize nuclear ballistic missile operations, strategic bombers, nuclear air-launched cruise missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as associated nuclear command, control and communications systems.

One of the more significant additions to this year’s budget is a $14 billion investment in the Air Force’s space portfolio, a 17 percent increase over the previous year. This investment includes $72.4 million to establish the headquarters for Space Force, which will be a new service within the Department of the Air Force.

The budget allows the Air Force to continue its dominance in space while also providing funding to train 1,480 new pilots, an increase from 1,211 trained this year. Overlaying all of it is funding to continue the progress on improving readiness across the Air Force’s 690,000 total force. Related is a 3.1 percent pay raise for service members as part of the larger Department of Defense budget.

Taken as a whole, the proposed budget for fiscal year 2020, which begins Oct. 1, 2019, continues Air Force efforts to add equipment and personnel, training and support to offset an era of lean budgets. As Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has said, the new budget is crafted to align the Air Force closer to the National Defense Strategy.

To get there the budget calls for purchasing an additional 48 F-35A Lightning II and eight upgraded F-15EX Srike Eagle fighters. It provides funding for 12 KC-46A Pegasus tankers as well as funds for third-generation GPS satellite and money to finance four launches of space vehicles for national security.

Additionally, the budget proposal includes funds for training and for modernizing live and virtual ranges and infrastructure that provide realistic – and crucial – training capabilities against the most advanced threats. The Nevada Test and Training Range, the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, the Utah Test and Training Range, the Space Test and Training Range and several smaller range complexes will receive targeted funding to better replicate the capabilities of peer adversaries.

Related to that focus, the fiscal 2020 budget includes funding to underwrite 1.1 million peacetime flying hours, the maximum amount of sustainable training, to prepare pilots and Airmen to be effective members of joint forces.

While the Air Force budget proposal is carefully crafted and is a proxy for the service’s priorities, the document represents an early, and uncertain, starting point of a months-long process. Congress retains the ultimate authorities on how tax dollars are spent with deliberation expected to stretch until the current fiscal year ends Sept. 30 and possibly beyond.


No Sign of “The Air Force We Need” in USAF Budget; 80-Plus New-Old F-15s Coming (excerpt)
(Source: Air Force Magazine; posted March 12, 2019)
By John A. Tirpak
Although Air Force leaders have pushed a case for 72 new fighters a year as essential in meeting the requirements of the National Defense Strategy, there was no evidence of a move toward a larger force structure in the service’s fiscal 2020 budget request.

In fact, the USAF budget request includes just 48 Lockheed Martin-built F-35A fighters, eight aircraft less than what was in the fiscal 2019 enacted budget, and eight new Boeing F-15EX fighters—16 airplanes short of what Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has said is the minimum needed to prevent the fighter force from shrinking and growing older than its current average age of 28 years. The Air Force is asking $5.7 billion to buy the 48 F-35s and $1.05 billion for the eight F-15EXs.

Long-term, the budget will call for far more F-15s than USAF officials have hinted at in recent months. USAF officials have only suggested a dozen such airplanes that might be in the budget, but according to budget documents the F-15EX buy “initiates the refresh” of the F-15 fleet. Air Force Maj. Gen. John Pletcher, briefing the press on the USAF budget on Tuesday, acknowledged there are 80 F-15EXs in the five-year Future Years Defense Plan. A service official reported the ultimate buy could be 144, completed after the FYDP. The plan, if approved by Congress, would represent more than $14 billion worth of Air Force fighter work for Boeing that would otherwise have gone to Lockheed Martin.

Last fall, the Air Force rolled out the “Air Force We Need,” a declaration of the minimum forces required for the service to accomplish its share of the NDS. It calls for 386 combat squadrons; roughly 25 percent more than the service has now. Among them, the Air Force says it needs 62 fighter squadrons, versus the 55 it now fields.

Asked whether the “Force We Need” initiative is dead since it carried such high priority with Wilson and Goldfein, but is not manifested in the budget, Pletcher said, “Not at all.” (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the AFM website.


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