Defense Department Priorities Fully Funded

The Pentagon’s Fiscal 2016 budget proposal seeks to “address challenges to US technological superiority,” by protecting planned funding of big-ticket priorities. The Pentagon wants to buy 57 F-35s for $10.6 billion (of which 44 would be F-35As for the Air Force, the service’s top priority), 16 Navy P-8 patrol craft for $3.4 billion, five Navy E-2D Hawkeye surveillance airplanes for $1.3 billion, and continued development money for the Air Force’s other two top priorities: the KC-46 tanker, at $3.0 billion, and the new Long-Range Strike Bomber, at $1.2 billion. Force structure requirements remain largely unchanged from last year, at 49 Air Force fighter squadrons, 54 Army brigades, 14 ballistic missile subs, 450 ICBMs, 96 operational bombers (with 58 in reserve), and a 304-ship Navy with 11 aircraft carriers. Those levels will be maintained with an overall Defense Department personnel reduction of 11,300, although the Air Force would actually see an uptick in personnel. All the services would work off a little of their depot maintenance backlog, and the Air Force would see an increase in flying hours, toward achieving 80 percent full-spectrum readiness by 2023. The Fiscal 2016 budget request includes a 1.3 percent pay raise for uniformed members and DOD civilians alike, but Comptroller Michael McCord noted that the proposed compensation changes do not reflect the findings of the independent compensation commission, whlch issued it recommendations last week. (See DOD release.)