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​​An F-15E from RAF Lakenheath, Britain, sits on the ramp at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, prior to takeoff during a training exercise, Dec. 18, 2014. Air Force photo by A1C Luke Kitterman​​

​The Air Force released a $167.3 billion budget proposal to Congress on Monday, of which $122.2 billion is for “blue” or service-specific programs. The rest is divided in two areas: $34.5 billion for joint initiatives that receive funding from Air Force accounts; and $10.7 billion that is the service’s share of the Pentagon’s overseas contingency operations funding. The proposal allows the Air Force to begin the process of recovery after three years of operating at reduced funding, said Maj. Gen. James Martin, deputy assistant secretary for budget, during a briefing rolling out the service’s budget request. “We have the fewest number of airmen and aircraft since our creation in 1947, and the average age of our aircraft is 27 years,” said Martin. “We simply can’t afford to get smaller.” The blue topline includes $47.8 billion for operations and maintenance (up from the $43.5 billion in the enacted Fiscal 2015 defense legislation); $29.0 billion for military personnel (a tad more than the $28.8 billion in Fiscal 2015); $25.3 billion for procurement (a hefty bump compared to Fiscal 2015’s $19.0 billion); $18.0 for research, development, test, and evaluation (compared to $16.1 billion in Fiscal 2015); and $2.1 billion for military construction (up from $1.4 billion in this fiscal year). (See also ​Air Force Fiscal 2016 Budget Overview document and Air Force Fiscal 2016 Budget Rollout Briefing ​slides; caution, both are large-sized files.)