It’s In There

A new bomber, the KC-46 tanker, F-35 strike fighters, and a replacement for the Joint STARS are all accommodated in the fiscally-constrained spending plan the Air Force has sent to Congress without magical “money from heaven” appearing in the out-years, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said Wednesday. Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Welsh said the daunting list of items in the modernization category requires no “new money … we’re not trying to raise the budget to get it; it’s in the plan, even at these reduced (budgetary) levels.” The fact that these things are in the plan—offset by things like removing the U-2 and A-10 fleets—indicates that “in our military judgment, those are the things we need to be successful … 10 years from now, against the threat as we see it,” Welsh said. “What we can’t do,” he added, “is maintain everything else that we would like to keep going and still … make that transition.” The choice the Air Force had to make with the FY ’15 budget—is “do you want a ready force today, or a ready and modern force tomorrow?” (For more coverage of Welsh’s speech, see The Necessity of a Shrinking Air Force; Pulling on a Thread; and A-10: Been There, Considered That.)