The Bad Math is Just Around the Bend

If the budget sequester remains in place, the Air Force stands to lose up to five of the planned 19 F-35As it has on the books to purchase in Fiscal 2014, said William LaPlante, the Air Force’s principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition, on Oct. 23. Other scaling back is inevitable because the math for Fiscal 2015 and Fiscal 2016 “is that bad,” he told the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces panel. While Congress granted the Defense Department some authority in Fiscal 2013 to transfer money to operations accounts, that flexibility is gone in the new fiscal year, said LaPlante. Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller, the Air Staff’s head of strategic plans and programs, told the panel that sequestration has driven the service to look at all options across personnel, readiness, force structure, and modernization accounts. “We had to look everywhere to get billions of dollars of savings,” he said when discussing the service’s Fiscal 2015 multiyear spending program. The priority, he said, was to make sure there is no “further readiness degradation in the near years,” which means avoiding cuts that would do “irreversible damage” to high-priority acquisition programs like the KC-46 tanker. (LaPlante-Moeller joint written statement)