The Air Force’s share of the increase in the military’s European Reassurance Initiative will focus on new rotations of aircraft through the continent and more exercises for aircrews, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Feb. 12 at an AFA-sponsored Air Force breakfast in Arlington, Va. The Defense Department in its Fiscal 2017 budget request is asking for $3.4 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative, a quadrupling of Fiscal 2016 funding. The Air Force’s share will be between $350-$400 million, James said. The service will use the funding to increase rotations of combat aircraft throughout Europe, and to send more units on training exercises with partner nations. President Obama in announcing the funding said the money shows the US will “stand firm” with allies in Europe. The majority of the money will go toward pre-positioning equipment throughout the continent, Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.