Air Force Procurement Up More than 25 Percent

The Air Force is seeking a large overall increase in procurement in its Fiscal 2016 budget, most of which supports production of new fighters and tankers, but also would fund a spike in munitions buying, particularly the small weapons carried by unmanned aircraft. Procurement overall would be $25.3 billion versus the enacted Fiscal 2015 level of $19.0 billion. Of the Fiscal 2016 total, $15.6 billion would go to aircraft, $2.1 billion to missiles, $1.8 million for ammunition, $2.6 billion for space, and $3.2 billion for other items. The KC-46A tanker would be funded at $2.4 billion, which would buy 12 tankers. The F-35A is budgeted for $6.03 billion, which would buy 44 jets. Twenty-seven C-130Js of all variants, including cargo and special operations types, are funded for $2.35 billion. The procurement request would also buy 29 MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted vehicles in Fiscal 2016, up from 24 in the enacted Fiscal 2015 budget. The ammunition and missile upticks are based on “forecast demand” and increased operating tempo, states a service budget document. There would be a 10-fold increase in AGM-114 Hellfire missiles—from 381 in Fiscal 2015 to 3,756—carried by all RPAs, and a one-third boost in joint direct attack munitions from 4,333 in Fiscal 2015 to 6,341 next fiscal year. Most of those two weapons buys would be funded out of the overseas contingency operation accounts, however. Spending on the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range would jump from $199 million to $367 million due to increased production. Similarly, Small Diameter Bomb production would leap from 144 in Fiscal 2015 to 1,942 in Fiscal 2016, again paid for mostly from OCO coffers. (See also Air Force Fiscal 2016 Budget Overview document and Air Force Fiscal 2016 Budget Rollout Briefing slides; caution, both are large-sized files.)?