According to Maj. Gen. Frank Faykes, USAF budget director, the Air Force plans to restructure the Transformational Satellite program into a “block approach” much like fighter aircraft. Lawmakers have cast a wary eye on TSAT, cutting some funding in 2006. Faykes said the service will scale back requirements for the first few satellites and fund to a “higher confidence level”—80 percent instead of the previous mark of 50 percent—to help mitigate any future cost increases. USAF proposes funding the program in 2007 at $867 million to cover completion of subsystems prototype development and the system design review. “It’s tough to determine costs at the leading edge of technology,” Faykes added.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.