The 22-day furlough of 180,000 Air Force civilian employees in Fiscal 2013 if the sequester goes through will have a huge impact on the service’s readiness, said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh. Addressing AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Welsh said there will not only be big delays and backlogs at the Air Force’s civilian-workforce-intensive air logistics complexes, but civilians represent 40 percent of the service’s cyber capability and 50 percent of its space personnel. There are many functions—pilot simulator training at Laughlin AFB, Tex., for example—where civilians comprise 100 percent of the capability, he said, adding, “This is going to hurt.” The civilian furloughs represent 31.5 million man-hours of work that won’t get done, said Welsh. He considers the furlough a “breach of faith” with the service’s civilians, who, he noted, have had no pay raises for three years. Since 2003, Welsh said, the Air Force has essentially “put aside full-spectrum training” in order to put the service’s full effort toward the wars in Southwest Asia, and readiness has declined as a result. The plan was to make a “big push” to start getting back up to par in Fiscal 2013, but the sequester will make that “very hard to do,” he observed.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.