The most recent selected acquisition report did not contain all bad news for the Air Force. The service’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program costs dropped 4.3 percent, “due primarily to savings realized in the negotiation and award of the new 2013-2017 phase one contract, revised cost assumptions based on the negotiated contract, and net decreases from a change in launch vehicle configuration requirements.” However, the report also states that “these decreases were partially offset by a quantity increase of 11 launch services, from 151 to 162, states the report. The KC-46A tanker program saw a 4.2 percent decrease from $51.6 billion to $49.46 billion, “due primarily to lower construction estimates …, funding reductions in FY 2015-2018 given stable program execution and no engineering change proposals to date (-$655.6 million), and the removal of construction planning and design funding from FY 2014-2024 budgeted elsewhere (-$268.8 million). Additional program cost decreases included the application of revised escalation indices (-$222.7 million), accelerating the procurement buy profile (-$157.7 million), and sequestration reductions (-$142.9 million),” states the report. The MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft program costs also decreased by 10.9 percent primarily because of a quantity decrease of 58 aircraft.
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.