A Bleak Forecast

If budget sequestration continues—as most suspect it will—there’ll be an impact to every single Air Force modernization and recapitalization program, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told members of the House Armed Services Committee. In fact, “as many as 50 percent” of the service’s modernization programs could be cut in the period beyond the Pentagon’s current five-year budget planning cycle, he said in his Sept. 18 testimony. Welsh called the forecast for such programs “bleak.” “These disruptions will, over time, cost more money to rectify contract breaches, raise unit costs, and delay delivery of critical equipment,” he said. Air Force leaders, including Welsh, have said many times they favor investing in new, modern capabilities over spending precious funds on upgrading legacy weapon systems. Along those lines, the Air Force is making every effort to protect its top three acquisition programs from budget cuts: the KC-46A tanker, F-35 strike fighter, and long-range-strike family of systems. (Welsh’s written statement)