Nightmare Scenario

The White House has purportedly given the Defense Department guidance to delay the KC-X tanker program by five years and cancel plans for a new bomber. CQ Today reported this March 9, citing sources close to the ongoing budget discussions for Fiscal 2010. It said this guidance is not yet the final word on what will emerge from DOD’s $533.7 billion topline. Rather, this guidance is part of Office of Management and Budget and Pentagon deliberations over possible budget trade-offs. Still, it is alarming to see how ready some in the Administration are to dismantle the service’s No. 1 acquisition priority by delaying KC-X significantly. And, it is equally disturbing to see the White House’s willingness to scrub the bomber project. We’re talking here about a new aerial tanker to replace a fleet of KC-135s built in the Eisenhower-era. Without tankers, global reach, power, and vigilance cannot be sustained. And, without a new bomber coming along near the end of next decade, the Air Force’s ability to penetrate deeply into heavily defended airspace and hold targets at risk with a good-size load of weapons will fall on the backs of 20 B-2s.