U.S.Air Force Budget Request Reflects Changing Needs, Official Says

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2012 — The Air Force made dif­fi­cult choic­es in its pro­posed fis­cal 2013 bud­get as it tran­si­tions away from sup­port­ing large-scale ground wars to plan­ning for the future, the deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of the Air Force for bud­get said yes­ter­day.

The ser­vice has struck the right bal­ance between plan­ning for risks, main­tain­ing readi­ness and tak­ing care of its peo­ple, Air Force Maj. Gen. Edward L. Bolton Jr. said at a Pen­ta­gon news brief­ing.

“We bal­anced risks by mak­ing dif­fi­cult choic­es,” he said. “We’ve pro­tect­ed readi­ness, and focused on key mod­ern­iza­tion needs. And we will con­tin­ue to take care of our most impor­tant resource, our peo­ple.”

The Air Force’s pro­posed fis­cal 2013 $154.3 bil­lion base bud­get is down from the $162.5 bil­lion enact­ed for the cur­rent fis­cal year. Bolton said Air Force lead­ers fol­lowed Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s strate­gic mil­i­tary guid­ance released last month in deter­min­ing what the ser­vice would need most to com­bat broad, future threats.

“Although the envi­ron­ment and our strat­e­gy has changed, our con­tri­bu­tions will remain,” he said. The Air Force’s largest cuts would come from pro­cure­ment, where the ser­vice plans to save $3 bil­lion in what Bolton described as its new oper­a­tional strat­e­gy to respond quick­ly wher­ev­er need­ed around the world.

Under the pro­pos­al, the Air Force would end pro­grams for:

— The RQ-4 “Block 30” Glob­al Hawk unmanned sur­veil­lance air­craft;

— The avion­ics mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gram for C-130 trans­port planes;

— The C-27J trans­port plane; and

— Light air­craft known as LIMA and LAAR.

Air Force lead­ers want to end the Glob­al Hawk pro­gram in favor of main­tain­ing U-2 recon­nais­sance planes, which per­form bet­ter at a low­er oper­a­tional cost, Bolton said. “The U-2 is a stronger sys­tem, so we’re going go with the stronger sys­tem,” he explained. Offi­cials have yet to deter­mine what to do with the 18 Glob­al Hawks already pur­chased, he added.

The bud­get pro­pos­al also calls for reduc­ing the num­ber of A-10 Thun­der­bolt II air­craft by 102. That would leave more than 140 in the fleet of “Warthogs,” which Bolton said are more aligned for fight­ing large-scale ground wars than with the new strat­e­gy of mul­ti­ple threats.

The Air Force’s oper­a­tions and main­te­nance bud­get would increase by $300 mil­lion to $44.3 bil­lion under the plan. It would main­tain pro­grams through addi­tion­al pro­cure­ments in:

— 19 F-35A joint strike fight­ers, down from 24 that were pre­vi­ous­ly planned;

— Upgrades to the F-22 soft­ware, enhanc­ing the F-15C and F-15D radar, and extend­ing the ser­vice life of F-16s;

— Avion­ics mod­i­fi­ca­tions for the KC-10 and KC-135 tankers;

— C-17, C-5, and C-130 trans­ports;

— Four CV-22 Ospreys, and recap­i­tal­iza­tion of MC-130s and AC-130s, all for spe­cial oper­a­tions; and

— A new long-range strike bomber, known as LRS-B, that began this year.

The bud­get pro­pos­al also would elim­i­nate sev­en of 61 tac­ti­cal air squadrons.

In mak­ing the bud­get request, Air Force lead­ers “care­ful­ly scru­ti­nized” weapons sys­tems and “made the req­ui­site tough choic­es,” Bolton said.

“The Air Force must do its part to reduce spend­ing, and we’ve made the dif­fi­cult choic­es nec­es­sary,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)