Defense

December 16, 2013

Budget woes cause Air Force to refine funding priorities

Budget battles here are causing tectonic shifts in the Air Force, the service’s leaders said during a Pentagon news conference Dec. 13.

Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning and Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the Air Force chief of staff, said that even with some relief from sequestration, the service will pay the bills via force structure, modernization and readiness.

How this occurs will affect what the service will look like in 2023, when sequestration ends, they said.

The proposed budget deal making its way through Congress would mitigate some near-term readiness problems, Welsh said, and Air Force leaders will put any money Congress approves beyond sequestration into training and maintenance accounts.

Still, he said, this doesn’t change the long-term picture, noting that sequestration poses a “Sophie’s Choice” dilemma for the Air Force. Does the service choose to keep near-term readiness high at the expense of force modernization, or vice versa? “That’s the balance we’re trying to walk,” Welsh said.

One example of this conundrum is the close-air support mission. The Air Force is studying proposals on how best to carry out this core mission, the general said. One proposal would eliminate the A-10 Thunderbolt II close-air support aircraft – the aircraft Welsh flew as a young pilot.

If money were no object, the A-10 would be a great platform to retain, the general said. But money is tight, he noted, and will be tighter.

“To pay our $12 billion-a-year bill toward sequestration, we have got to find savings in big chunks,” Welsh said. “That’s the problem. And that’s what all these discussions are based on. It’s not about a specific platform. It’s about balancing the mission sets.”

The Air Force ultimately will replace the A-10 with the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, Welsh said. “That plan hasn’t changed.”

The general said other aircraft, F-16s, B-1s and B-52s, provide roughly 75 percent of the close-air support in Afghanistan today. “We have a lot of airplanes that can perform that mission and perform it well,” he said. “Those other aircraft do other things for us.”

Saving money also is important, he said.

“To do that, you have to start talking about fleet divestitures, because you have to get rid of the infrastructure behind the aircraft – the logistics tail, the supply systems, the facilities that do all the logistical support and depot maintenance, et cetera,” he said. “That’s where you create big savings.”

Changing force structure also will change the service, and this is inevitable, Welsh said.

“We will have to draw down people – both the tooth and the tail that comes with that force structure,” he added.

Personnel policies will be used to shape the force, and the service is getting these policies out to Airmen now so they can make informed decisions, Welsh said.

“We’d love to get all this done with voluntary force-shaping measures over a period of time,” he said. “If we … have to take involuntary measures, I would like everyone to have at least six months of time to talk to their family (and) to think about the impact this could have on them.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines October 29, 2014

News: Unmanned rocket explodes just six seconds after taking off - A NASA rocket due to be visible across the East Coast on its way to the International Space Station has blown up on the Launchpad. IG: Former chief of wounded warrior office broke law, DOD regs - The Defense Department inspector general has recommended “corrective action”...
 
 

News Briefs October 29, 2014

F-35C makes first landing at Virginia Beach Navy base The Navy says an operational F-35C joint strike fighter has landed at Naval Air Station Oceana for the first time. Naval Air Station Oceana is the Navy’s master jet base on the East Coast. The Navy says the plane came to the Virginia Beach base Oct....
 
 

Time to turn to American technology for space launch

For the first time since the Cold War, the United States has deployed armored reinforcements to Europe. To counter Russia’s aggression, several hundred troops and 20 tanks are now in the Baltic. Yet the U.S. military is still injecting millions into the Russian military industrial complex. In late August, the United Launch Alliance – the...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Joe Davila

Boeing, Air Force demonstrate Minuteman III readiness in flight test

Air Force photograph by Joe Davila Boeing supported the launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Sept. 23, 2014. Boeing supported the U.S. Air Force’s succ...
 
 

Pentagon going to court for refusing to release Sikorsky data

PETALUMA, Calif. – The Pentagon is refusing to release any data on any prime contractors participating in the 25-year-old Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program. The American Small Business League launched a program in 2010 to expose the fraud and abuse against small businesses the CSPTP had allowed. As a test the ASBL requested the most...
 
 
Northrop Grumman photograph

Raytheon Griffin C flight tests demonstrate in-flight retargeting capability

Northrop Grumman photograph Northrop Grumman has received a contract from the U.S. Marine Corps for low-rate initial production of the AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR). G/ATOR is the first ground-based multi-mi...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>