The Air Force and Navy may be able to avoid the budgetary chopping block as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan come to a close, said Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, D.C., Monday. That’s because the American public is growing tired of lengthy, expensive ground wars, a development that may lead to an about-face in defense spending, similar to the one that took place following the Korea War, he explained during a discussion of defense budget issues with reporters. In the 1950s, “Army procurement spending crashed to almost nothing,” while “Air Force and Navy procurement funding almost doubled,” explained Harrison. He added, “I don’t think we . . . will see anything quite so dramatic, but we are at a similar point. There is going to be little appetite in the public for another Afghanistan or another Iraq. So we will see a shift in our strategic posture and in our budget where we focus more on airpower and less on our ground forces.” (See also Harrison’s analysis of the Fiscal 2012 defense budget request.)
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.