Continuing Woes

The Air Force will have a tough time meeting Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ directed goal of having 65 MQ-1 Predator/MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft combat air patrols in place by 2013 if Congress doesn’t approve a Fiscal 2011 defense spending bill, said USAF Secretary Michael Donley. Similarly, the service also will see an increase in the cost of Wideband Global Satellite Communications system, Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, F-15 radar modernization, and additional programs if Congress opts for another continuing resolution to fund the Defense Department this fiscal year instead of concluding a formal defense appropriations bill. The existing CR is set to expire March 4. The House last week voted to extend the CR for the remaining seven months in the fiscal year. The Senate still has to vote. “Without Fiscal 2011 appropriations, we face delay or cancellation of some depot maintenance, weapons system sustainment, and other day-to-day activities in order to prioritize our most critical needs under the lower funding levels in a full-year CR,” Donley told the House Armed Services Committee last week. His comments echo the narrative in the Air Force’s newly released 2011 posture statement (caution, large-sized file).