Air Force Prioritizes Research, Readiness in Fiscal 2020 Budget

The Air Force’s proposed $166 billion budget in fiscal 2020 would invest in ramped-up research and development on advanced technology programs and boost maintenance funding to prepare airmen for high-end combat. Service leadership head to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to argue for their new initiatives, like buying Boeing’s F-15EX and launching a Space Force. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

No Sign of “The Air Force We Need” in USAF Budget; 80-Plus New-Old F-15s Coming

The Air Force, in its fiscal 2020 budget, makes no effort to start building up force structure to match the “Air Force We Need” levels it rolled out with great fanfare last fall. While service leaders argued strenuously within the last month for an annual buy of 72 fighters, only 56 are in the service budget, and eight of those are meant to replace legacy F-15Cs. Following exit instructions from former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, USAF will buy 80 F-15EXs in the coming five years, and as many as 144 over the next 10 years. The service’s other aircraft buys were similarly anemic, with only a handful of new tankers, special mission aircraft, hunter-killer drones, and rescue helicopters in the mix. The F-15 move reverses nearly 20 years of the Air Force’s adamance that it will buy no “new old” fighters, and sets the stage for keeping fourth-gen F-15s in the inventory well into the 2040s. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

DOD’s FY20 Budget Shifts Large Portion of Base Budget to War Funding Account

The White House’s $750 billion fiscal 2020 budget request is $34 billion more than the enacted fiscal 2019 appropriations. It includes $545 billion in base defense funding, as well $173 billion in total overseas contingency operations funds. Despite the substantial increase, the budget avoids mandatory spending limits by moving the bulk of the proposed growth into OCO wartime funding—an account safe from Congressionally imposed limits. It’s a tactic the Defense Department said was imposed by the White House, and one not likely to get support from Capitol Hill. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

USAF Space Budget Offers Few Details on Space Force

The Air Force wants Congress to grant $13.8 billion in fiscal 2020 for space operations, the acquisition pipeline, and personnel, marking a 17 percent increase over its current spending level. Research and development makes up the majority of that request, accompanied by $2.4 billion in procurement. Space Force needs only $72 million to start standing up a headquarters with an initial cadre of 160 personnel, although additional details about the proposed new service were unavailable Tuesday. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Hypersonics, Next Generation Fighters, Satellites Get Big Boost in FY20 R&D Budget

The Air Force is pouring more than $35 billion into its research, development, test and evaluation accounts in fiscal year 2020—a 13 percent increase—in order to catch up to peer competitors in areas such as hypersonics, or extend its lead in air dominance accounts. The B-21 bomber, hypersonics, and space were the other research areas seeing the biggest surges in proposed spending. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Maximum Effort on Munitions to Refill USAF Stockpiles

The Air Force is maxing out the capacity of its munitions contractors to replace heavily used “preferred” munitions expended in the war against ISIS, as well as war stockpiles for “higher-end” combat, Air Force budget officials said Tuesday. High production was already underway for weapons like the JDAM satellite-guided bomb, but was ratcheted up significantly for other weapons, such as the Small Diameter Bomb II, which would be bought at double the previous rate. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Despite Proposed Pentagon Budget Increase, MDA Funding Drops

Although the need for missile defense has received renewed attention with the release of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review and a broader proposed increase in Defense Department spending, the Missile Defense Agency is seeing a small budget cut in its proposed 2020 budget. The agency requests $9.4 billion—a $1 billion drop from 2019. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.



Pentagon Signs Directive to Implement Transgender Military Ban

The Pentagon announced Tuesday night that a directive has been signed to implement President Trump’s policy barring most transgender people from serving in the military. The Hill

Heightened Focus on the Arctic Brings Attention, Challenges to the Air Force

There’s no mystery—or surprise—surrounding the Arctic’s strategic importance, a vast and foreboding expanse where the United States has maintained a resolute and unblinking presence for decades. Air Force News

USSTRATCOM Commander Paints Dour Future For New START

With just over five months to go before Washington withdraws from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the top US general charged with nuclear weapons oversight painted a gloomy forecast for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) set to expire in 2021. Jane’s

Air Force Must Do More to Clean Up Jet Fuel at Kirtland, New Mexico Regulators Say

The U.S. Air Force has excavated thousands of tons of soil and treated millions of gallons of water contaminated by jet fuel at a base bordering New Mexico’s largest city, but state regulators say the military still has more cleanup to do. Air Force Times

Report: Specialized Protective Equipment, Family Leave Among Issues Affecting Female Service Members

Providing female service members with properly fitted protective equipment and encouraging the Department of Veterans Affairs to change its motto are among the recommendations laid out in an annual report to the secretary of defense. Stars and Stripes

Lawmakers To Invite NATO Chief to Address Congress

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is due to be invited by Congress in April, sources familiar with the planning said Monday. Defense News

One More Thing …

F-16 Fighter Jet Sets Off Police Radar

“Do you know how fast you were going?” Popular Mechanics