Maj. Gen. Frank Faykes, USAF budget director, said that the Air Force cut back on readiness funding last year “to jumpstart our modernization.” However, he asserted the service “can’t do that for two years” in a row, so it has increased most of its readiness accounts, up an aggregate $2.9 billion, from $27.4 billion in Fiscal 2007 to $30.6 billion in 2008. That means the readiness share of the USAF topline will rise from 25 percent to 27 percent. Even so, USAF is cutting its flying hours program by 10 percent, hoping that advanced simulation can cover the other 10 percent without any significant effect on pilot proficiency. Faykes also pointed out that the cost for readiness items has grown more than the rate of inflation. From 2007 to 2008, USAF predicts the cost of spare parts will rise six percent; utilities, 16 percent; fuel, nine percent, and contractor maintenance, five percent. The general rate of inflation was around two percent in the rest of the economy.
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.