The Air Force on Friday released part of its $7.2 billion unfunded priorities list, of which about $691 million would go toward buying the five F-35As that were deferred in its Fiscal 2017 budget request. In addition, $88 million would pay for updates to F-16s for compliance and survivability, about $724 million would fund the replacement of eight C-130Hs with C-130Js, and $145 million would help grow the Active Duty force to 321,000. Another $1.2 billion would go to facilities sustainment, restoration, and modernization projects, and to information technology projects. The service has sent the unfunded priority list to the office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff, and it will be part of the Joint Staff’s combined unfunded priority list submission to Congress later this month. Air Force officials had outlined many of the unfunded priorities when the budget was released in February. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said he is “pleased” that all the services are sending Congress their lists of unfunded requirements. “Congress needs to know what we need to defend the nation, not just what’s in the President’s Budget,” he said. Pentagon officials in February said they had to cut $17 billion from the Defense Department’s top line budget because of the two-year bipartisan budget deal. (See previously: Unfunded, Broadly)
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.