The Air Force’s Fiscal 2016 budget proposal funds an endstrength of 491,700 military personnel across the service’s three components, an increase of 6,620 from Fiscal 2015, according to budget documents released on Monday. Active Duty endstrength would increase by 4,020 positions, bringing the total Active component to 317,000 authorized billets. That includes an increase of some 900 personnel in the nuclear enterprise, along with an additional 200 personnel in cyber operations and cyber warfare. In addition, the Air Force is bolstering its MQ-9 force by some 400 Active Duty personnel and its adding 600 more F-15C Active Duty positions in support of US allies and commitment to the European Reassurance Initiative. The proposed budget also looks to add some 1,900 military personnel “to support the intuitional and training pipeline program that will enable the Air Force to transition and share its workforce to meet future mission and skill requirements,” states a budget document. The number of authorized Air Force Reserve billets would increases by 2,100, bringing the total Reserve endstrength to 69,200. The Air National Guard would see an increase of 500 authorized billets for a total endstrength of 105,500. The increases in the reserve components are tied to increased mission support within the F-16, C-17, and KC-46A weapon systems. For example, McConnell AFB, Kan., would receive 415 traditional Reserve authorizations to support the KC-46A operations there. (See Air Force Fiscal 2016 Budget Overview and Air Force Fiscal 2016 Budget Rollout Briefing; caution, both are large-sized files.)
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.