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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: The Air Force Fiscal 2008 budget released today is $153.9 billion. Of that, after subtracting special funds for the war on terror and “pass through” monies that the Air Force doesn’t control—such as for national intelligence programs, defense healthcare, and special operations, what’s left is a budget topline of $110.7 billion. Even though that marks a $6.2 billion increase over Fiscal 2007, Air Force officials said that most of that increase is eaten up by inflation, increased cost of fuel, and rising health and personnel costs, leaving the service with essentially flat funding. The topline includes a three percent pay raise for personnel. Incidentally, funding for Operation Noble Eagle—the aerial intercept mission designed to stop hijacked airliners or terrorist aircraft—is taken from normal USAF operations, and no longer from supplemental “war on terror” accounts.