Balance and Rebalance

The Obama Administration seeks $115.6 billion for the Air Force in its Fiscal 2010 baseline defense spending request and an additional $16 billion next year to cover USAF’s operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Combined, this $131.6 billion is $3 billion less than the service’s baseline funds and war supplemental monies appropriated in Fiscal 2009. (Please note: The service’s proposal rises to $160.5 billion when factoring in the defense-wide activities that are funded from USAF accounts.) Maj. Gen. Larry Spencer, USAF’s budget czar, said Thursday this spending proposal represents “balance and rebalance” of the service’s priorities. For example, there is now more focus on maintaining current systems rather than just transitioning to new ones. As testament to this, about one-fifth of the $21.7 billion requested for procurement would go toward systems upgrades, he said. As we’ve already seen, the service has had to eat some big modernization cuts—the future TSAT communications satellite and CSAR-X rescue helicopter programs are cancelled and there’s no money for F-22s beyond 187 or C-17s beyond 205 (see below). The request includes $39.5 billion for personnel (up $2.1 billion from 2009), $30.8 for readiness ($0.2 billion more), $4.9 billion for infrastructure ($0.8 billion less), and $40.4 billion for modernization, including procurement (a $0.4 billion increase). It funds an active duty end strength of 331,700 and provides “adequate” funding to sustain readiness, said Spencer. The request supports procuring 81 fixed-wing aircraft, both manned and unmanned, two modified Army helicopters (yes, see below), one communications satellite, one space-based early warning payload, five space launch vehicles, and 7,139 missiles and bombs. (briefing charts)