The Pentagon’s just-released list of additional pain the services will endure if sequester persists past Fiscal 2015 forecasts $66 billion more will be cut from modernization accounts through 2019. For the Air Force, that includes 15 fewer F-35 strike fighters and five aircraft—$1.1 billion—out of the KC-46 tanker program. Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello, USAF’s deputy assistant secretary for contracting, told reporters Wednesday that further sequester means potentially “breaking” the fixed-price contract on the KC-46, and thus “exposing” the Air Force “to additional risk.” The KC-46, “right now, … is moving exactly as we want it to,” hitting cost and schedule marks, but Masiello said “it’s a possibility” that, if forced to reopen the deal, the Air Force could be on the hook for Boeing’s true development costs, which are higher than the contract amount. Masiello spoke to reporters after a speech to an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast event in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.