Hundreds of thousands of Defense Department civilian personnel, including tens of thousands of Air Force civilian employees, are scheduled to begin government-mandated furloughs the week of July 8. These personnel will face one furlough day without pay each week through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, announced Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in May. That’s a total of up to 11 days, which would equate to a 20-percent reduction in pay for these employees during that span. The Pentagon leadership is taking this step to help reduce the funding shortfall in Fiscal 2013 caused by budget sequestration, which took effect in March and stripped some $37 billion from the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2013 budget. DOD officials have said they expect the furloughs to save some $1.8 billion, which, in the Air Force’s case, will help to buy back some of the combat readiness lost due to the sequester. Of the Air Force’s major commands, Air Force Materiel Command, which develops, procures, and sustains the service’s aircraft and weapons, has the largest pool of civilians—more than 75 percent of its 80,000-person-strong workforce—and faces potentially serious disruption from the furloughs. For more on how the furloughs will affect the command, continue to AFMC’s Furlough Challenge.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.