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Reflecting Difficult Decisions


Reflecting Difficult Decisions

The Air Force has requested $110.1 billion for service-specific activities in Fiscal 2013 and another $14.3 billion in overseas contingency funds. The service's total request amounts to $154.3 billion, when factoring the $29.9 billion in USAF accounts that would support joint initiatives.

—Amy McCullough


Click here for the Air Force's budget rollout charts and click here for the Bolton-Thomas budget briefing transcript.


Feb. 14, 2012—The Air Force has requested $110.1 billion in its USAF-specific baseline budget proposal for Fiscal 2013 and another $14.3 billion in overseas contingency funds, senior service budget officials told reporters in the Pentagon on Monday.

When factoring the additional $29.9 billion that falls under Air Force accounts, but supports joint programs, such as intelligence and special operations, the service's total Fiscal 2013 spending request amounts to $154.3 billion, they said in unveiling the service's spending plan.

That total is $8.2 billion (five percent) less than the $162.5 billion enacted in Fiscal 2012, they said.

The Air Force's blue baseline funding has declined 12 percent, when adjusted for inflation, from Fiscal 2009 to Fiscal 2013, said Maj. Gen. Edward Bolton, USAF's deputy assistant secretary for budget.

"Our Fiscal 2013 budget decisions reflect the difficult choices we've made to align with the new [defense] strategy," said Bolton. "These decisions reflect a balanced approach across five broad themes."

He continued, "We've rebalanced our force structure to maximize our capabilities and responsiveness; we've preserved readiness by protecting flying hours and weapons system sustainment; we support our aging fleet of over 5,200 aircraft by continuing to reduce the cost of operations wherever possible; in the area of modernization, we continue our investment in the most promising technologically superior systems. And, we maintain the quality of life for our airmen and their families by increasing pay and allowances and providing first-class housing and family programs."

Of the $110.1 billion in the blue budget, about $72 billion, or 66 percent, is required for day-to-day operations in the Air Force, including military personnel, civilian pay, flying hours, and base operations support, said Bolton.

The budget proposal funds an active duty end strength of 328,900 (down 3,900 from Fiscal 2012), 101,600 Air National Guardsmen (down 5,100), and 70,500 Air Force Reservists (900 fewer).

It also includes a 1.7 percent military pay raise, a 4.2 percent increase in basic allowance for housing, and a 3.4 percent increase in basic allowance for subsistence.

Despite a 20 percent increase in fuel costs, the Fiscal 2013 request funds 1.17 million flying hours and sustains a fleet of 5,239 aircraft.

The military construction budget, however, will take a severe hit in Fiscal 2013, dropping by $900 million from $1.3 billion to $400,000 in what Bolton called a "deliberate pause."

"This one-year pause will give us time to ensure proper investment of limited resources in light of the ongoing budget reduction pressures and potential force structure changes," he said.

Procurement also decreases by $2 billion from $36.9 billion in Fiscal 2012 down to $33.8 billion in Fiscal 2013. Research, development, test, and evaluation funding decreases by $500 million from the Fiscal 2012 enacted amount, said Bolton.

Overall, the Air Force wants to divest 227 aircraft, about four percent of the fleet, in Fiscal 2013—a move that is expected to save the service $8.7 billion across the Fiscal 2013 to Fiscal 2017 future years defense program, said Bolton.

"The Air Force is accepting lower overall rates of procurement while focusing investments on the highest strategic priorities and most technologically promising areas," states the service's official budget overview, released Monday.

Among the modernization priorities, the request funds the development of a long-range, penetrating bomber, providing $0.3 billion in Fiscal 2013 for it and some $6.3 billion over the FYDP.

It supports Increment 3.2 software development for the F-22 Raptor, and continues development of four KC-46A tankers for integration and a capability demonstration.

The budget proposal also provides funding to enhance the F-15C/D radar and to extend the service life of aging F-16s, although the service will not procure any actual SLEP kits in Fiscal 2013.

Under the request, the B-2 will receive a new communication system and the B-52 will receive increased precision weapons capabilities.

Bolton said the F-35 strike fighter remains the "centerpiece of our precision strike capability." However, the Fiscal 2013 request only funds 19 aircraft—that's six aircraft less than officials intended to produce in Fiscal 2013 at this time last year and one more than USAF bought last year, he said. The Air Force's F-35 program of record remains unchanged at 1,763 aircraft.

"We've had some challenges in this program and we've had several restructures in the last five years, so we were trying to find the right ramp rate so as not to overwhelm production, while also decreasing the amount of systems that might deal with concurrency," he said.

Although USAF will reduce the amount of Reapers produced from 48 to 24, Bolton said the service is still on track to reach its goal of having enough assets on hand to support 65 simultaneous combat air patrols by 2014.

The Fiscal 2013 budget request does not include funding for the common vertical lift support platform, the would-be successor to the service's Vietnam War-era UH-1 Huey helicopters. Instead, USAF "will try to obtain some" UH-1s that the Marine Corps has retired or will retire, said Marilyn Thomas, USAF budget deputy.

"Because security at our missile sites is now better because of some investments we've made there, that requirement has [been] reduced," said Thomas.

However, there is RDT&E funding for the HH-60 recapitalization program, now called the combat rescue helicopter, beginning in Fiscal 2013, she added.

The Air Force will commit about $9.6 billion to space, including $1.6 billion to procure two GPS III satellites, $1.1 billion for two Space Based Infrared System missile warning satellites, and $469.9 million to continue the second year of procurement for the fifth and sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites.

The Evolutionary Acquisition for Space Efficiency strategy that debuted in the Fiscal 2012 budget request has a new name: Efficient Space Procurement. Bolton said the primary principals of EASE, such as block buys and fixed-price incentive fees contracts, still apply.

This request also eliminates the Operationally Responsive Space program office, transferring its mission and activities to the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.

"The driving strategy behind this is to take the concepts that ORS really brought and institutionalize those across the Air Force space program," said Thomas. "A lot of those key tenets—responsiveness and agility—factor into existing space programs."

The budget request does not include funding for an additional round of BRAC, though service leaders have publicly supported the idea and the budget reiterates that desire. It does, however, include $123 million for environmental restoration and property management at 28 installations closed under BRAC 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1995, as well as $2 million for environmental restoration and property management at six closed installations under BRAC 2005.

Bolton declined to say what bases may be closed if Congress authorizes a new BRAC.

In summary, he said the Fiscal 2013 spending request "prepares the Air Force for the national security challenges we see emerging and meets our objective within the necessary fiscal constraints."

He added, "We made the difficult decisions necessary to appropriately balance our resources between force structure, readiness, modernization, and our people. This budget ensures we will meet our obligation to the American people and remain the finest Air Force in the world for the years and decades to come."

  • On the Record


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