Proposed Budgets Show A Shift to Airpower

The Air Force is the only one of the four armed services that would receive a real increase in funding in the Fiscal 2015 budget that is awaiting congressional action. Air Force funding would increase even more the next year, under the Obama Administration’s proposals. Those increases, while less than 1 percent in 2015 and 8.5 percent the next year, reflect a shift “to airpower from land power” after 13 years of ground combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Todd Harrison, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, on Thursday. Harrison cautioned, however, that although the 2015 funding matches the spending caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act, the 2016 proposal is above the limits and would be in danger unless Congress agrees to end the budget reductions under the sequestration process. The spending caps also could affect procurement funding, which is projected to increase in future years, while personnel, operations and maintenance, and research would drop or remain essentially flat, Harrison said. Reduced procurement funding would affect the Air Force’s three highest acquisition priorities: the F-35A strike fighter, the KC-46 tanker, and the Long-Range Strike Bomber, which are among the five most expensive programs in the future budgets.