Though Air Force budget documents released Monday did not call out funding for the new T-X trainer, “It’s in there … at the BCA level,” Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said in an interview with Air Force Magazine. The BCA is the Budget Control Act, or sequester-level of funding. “T-X is kind of existential to us, and it’s time we do this, so it’s included in the budget,” he said. Welsh said a choice of a platform will be made in Fiscal 2018, and initial operational capability is planned for 2023. An Air Force spokeswoman said the T-X is funded for $628 million across the Future Years’ Defense Plan. In Fiscal 2016 and 2017, planned spending is $11.4 million and $12.2 million, respectively. In Fiscal 2018, the figure balloons to $17.2 million, more than doubling in FY’19 funding to $262.8 million. The fiscal year 2020 figure is $275.9 million. The spokeswoman said the strategy is to “take advantage of existing and emerging industry-developed aircraft to reduce the cost and time to field the T-X.”
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.