Ever single line item under the budget remains under heavy review, as the Defense Department and the rest of the federal government look to shave costs and reduce the nation’s debt, said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley at AFA’s Air & Space Conference Monday. Roughly 40 percent of the Air Force’s budget is dedicated to personnel costs, so that means coveted items such as health care and benefits must also be considered, he added. “We need to make sure that the compensation earned is sustainable over the long haul,” said Donley. However, he echoed previous comments by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, saying any changes to pensions and other benefits are likely to be grandfathered for today’s airmen.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.