No New Starts?

Although the Fiscal 2015 budget isn’t quite done yet, it’s clear the Air Force won’t be able to undertake many—if any—new programs for the next three years, Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning said Monday. Speaking at an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast in Arlington, VA., Fanning said “it’s going to be very hard to do new starts…out to about (Fiscal) ’18.” He added, “The money just isn’t there” for anything besides “the big programs;” namely, the F-35 fighter, KC-46 tanker, and long-range strike bomber. The service won’t be able to achieve the needed “instantaneous” savings demanded by the ongoing sequester in January through manpower or closing bases, so the only accounts to cut are in procurement, research and development, and force structure. The Air Force also has been hard-nosed about the budget, putting “98- to 99 percent” of its efforts into crafting one that lives within the sequester, Fanning said, rather than the larger President’s budget topline, which the other services have been aiming for. Fanning labeled that the “tease” budget later while talking with reporters. If sequester is lifted, USAF will view the extra 10 percent as a “bonus” with which it can “buy back” capabilities it’s giving up under fiscal duress. Still, it wouldn’t be able to “buy back everything” that will be lost, Fanning said.