Hagel’s Budget Preview

The A-10 attack jet and the U-2 reconnaissance airplane are two of the “vertical cuts” the Defense Department is offering in its Fiscal 2015 budget proposal, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at a Monday press conference and budget preview. DOD will formally unveil the budget details next week. Hagel would reduce the Active Duty military by 13 percent and take another five percent out of the reserve components, defense-wide. He would also hold military pay increases for rank-and-file uniformed personnel to one percent, but flag officer pay would be frozen at Fiscal 2014 levels. Air Force squadrons would be reduced in number, but the service would continue to buy the F-35A strike fighter, Long Range Strike Bomber, and KC-46A tanker. Hagel warned that if the budget sequester is not repealed, Congress should expect to see retirement of the KC-10 tanker and the Global Hawk Block 40 fleet in the Fiscal 2016 budget proposal, along with a cut of 10 combat air patrols from the planned 65 CAPs of MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft. Hagel said the A-10 cut would save $3.5 billion over five years, the bulk of which would go to buying F-35s and investment in a new military jet engine that offers “sizable cost savings.” He also said he’ll suggest a 2017 round of BRAC. The overall Fiscal 2015 budget request would be $496 billion,”$45 billion less” than what DOD had projected for Fiscal 2015 last year, said Hagel. (Hagel transcript)