Air Force Plans to Divest 250 Aircraft in 2025, Shrinking Fleet to New Low

The Air Force plans to shrink its total aircraft inventory in fiscal 2025, cutting its plans for new airframes while continuing to retire old platforms, the service revealed in its budget request, released on March 11. The Air Force plans to divest 250 aircraft in FY25, dropping its total aircraft inventory below 5,000, an unprecedentedly small number.

After Recruiting Shortfall, USAF Cuts End Strength Goal, Boosts Bonus Funds in ’25

The Air Force is trimming its end strength by 8,000 Airmen in fiscal year 2025 after the service could not meet its previous goals, while upping the Space Force by 400 Guardians, according to budget documents released March 11. The service is also asking for $1.1 billion in bonuses and retention programs for 118,000 critical positions. Both figures are major increases over last year’s request, when the Air Force sought $648 million for 65,000 critical positions.

Air Force Gets Bigger Slice of Budget than Army for First Time in Decades

The Department of Defense is requesting more funding for the Air Force than the Army in fiscal year 2025, a potential landmark in the Pentagon’s pivot toward the Indo-Pacific and great power competition with China. In its budget request released March 11, DOD announced it is seeking $188.1 billion for the Air Force and $185.8 billion for the Army. Both trail the Navy, which is slated to receive $203.9 billion.

Radar Sweep

Ukraine Could Deploy F-16s as Soon as July, but Only a Few

The New York Times

The jets are ready, and the flight instructors are waiting, at a new training center in Romania that was created to teach Ukraine’s pilots to fly the F-16 warplane. But there’s a catch: The Ukrainian pilots have yet to arrive, despite declarations last summer that the center would play a crucial role in getting them into the air to defend their country from increasingly deadly Russian strikes.

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Momentum Shifts Toward Russia in Ukraine War, US Spies Warn


The deadlock in Ukraine is “shifting the momentum” in the war there in Moscow’s favor, U.S. intelligence agencies told senators on March 11. Moscow has made continual, incremental battlefield gains since late 2023 and benefits from uncertainties about the future of military assistance from the U.S. and allies, the top intelligence officials told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee in their annual presentation on the biggest “worldwide threats.”

US Dominates Foreign Weapons Market as Russian Exports Plummet

The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. bolstered its position as the world’s dominant arms exporter, accounting for more than 40% of the global trade in weapons over a recent five-year period, while Russia saw its sales abroad drop by more than half because of the war in Ukraine, according to a new report.

Air Force PT Uniform Delayed as Space Force Launches Own Workout Gear

Air Force Times

The Air Force said March 8 it is postponing the release of its new physical training uniforms until April, 18 months after the uniforms were originally slated to hit shelves and a month later than the service promised late last year. The new delay was prompted by a “previous fabric shortage” and an “ongoing color match concern for the running and all-purpose short,” Air Force spokesperson Master Sgt. Deana Heitzman said in an email.

Pentagon Says $1 Billion Planned for First Two Years of Replicator

Defense News

For the first time, Pentagon officials on March 11 estimated the cost of Replicator, a program to field thousands of drones before August 2025 to counter China. While briefing reporters on the Pentagon’s new budget request, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said her signature initiative would cost a planned $1 billion, divided evenly between fiscal years 2024 and 2025.

Missile Defense Agency Takes $500M Cut to $10.4B in FY25

Breaking Defense

The Missile Defense Agency’s fiscal 2025 budget request seeks $10.4 billion, down $500 million from its FY24 request. MDA did not provide its usual background briefing to reporters on its budget, but did make available a fact sheet of major highlights. The fact sheet did not, however, break out planned research and development spending from procurement spending.

Navy Delaying Next-Gen F/A-XX Fighter Spending for Near-Term Investments

Breaking Defense

The US Navy is delaying about $1 billion of funding into developing its next-generation strike fighter in its new budget, a move senior leaders said was a deliberate choice to sacrifice future modernization to keep current readiness high. The funding delay means any major decisions about awarding a contract on the program will be kicked down the road, unwelcome news to the country’s top three aerospace prime contractors—Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman—which have all signaled their intent to fight for a production contract.

Pentagon Eyes Stockpile Replenishment, Funds to Spur Tech Industry in 2025 Budget

Defense One

The Pentagon wants $500 million to replenish stockpiles tapped to aid Taiwan—a first for the department’s budget request. But the eventual goal is to pair that ask with supplemental funding stalled in Congress. The funding request immediately calls out China as the pacing challenge, highlighting a larger effort in the Indo-Pacific to bolster relationships and spending to support allied nations and partners. The Defense Department is also asking for about $10 billion for ballistic missile activities to support Guam, increased military exercises, training, and experimentation, cyber operations support, and fielding autonomous systems, according to budget documents.

Pentagon Seeks $14.5 Billion for Cyber Spending Including Zero Trust

Defense News

The U.S. Department of Defense is seeking $14.5 billion for its cyberspace endeavors, including safeguarding information networks with zero trust initiatives, increasing manpower and researching advanced computing. The fiscal 2025 budget request unveiled March 11 is about $1 billion more than the Biden administration’s previous ask. It is also up from fiscal 2023, when it sought $11.2 billion.

Proposal for ‘GI Bill for Child Care’ Aims to Boost Unemployed Military Spouses

Unemployed military spouses could have child care fully paid for during their job search under a proposal being crafted by a leading lawmaker. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee's military quality-of-life panel, is advocating for what she has termed a “GI Bill for child care.” The proposal would provide grants of up to $15,000 per kid to cover child care for 6-9 months while spouses try to reenter the workforce, according to a fact sheet provided by her office.

Pentagon Needs Congress to Hand Over $10B to Replace Weapons Sent to Ukraine


The Pentagon has sent $10 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine that it still does not have the money to replace due to congressional gridlock, according to a top Defense Department official. DOD officials expect funding to replenish the equipment the U.S. has already sent to Ukraine to be included in President Joe Biden’s supplemental request, which provides billions of additional dollars in aid for Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel. But that legislation has languished on Capitol Hill for months amid partisan bickering.

Buy Before Build: SSC’s Commercial Space Office Seeks to Disrupt Business as Usual


With a $15 billion acquisition budget, Space Systems Command is one of the nation’s dominant military space customers. Housed at Los Angeles Air Force Base like its predecessor the Space and Missile Systems Center, SSC is known for missile-warning satellites and nuclear-survivable communications. While much of that hardware is acquired through the traditional defense contracting process, SSC leaders adopted a new mantra a couple of years ago, “Exploit what we have, buy what we can and build only what we must.”

One More Thing

Medal of Honor Monday: Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger

DOD release

Many military men and women do heroic things that they can't get credit for because they're involved in classified missions. For Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Loy Etchberger, he finally did get credit in the form of the Medal of Honor 42 years after he lost his life saving others during the Vietnam War.