The Air Force is “investing heavily” in legacy weapons systems in an effort to increase performance in areas such as targeting, communications, power, and survivability, said acting Secretary Lisa Disbrow during her address Friday at AWS17. “You’ll see these priorities in our FY17 amended budget request,” she said. “Those requests include critical pilot production, especially fighter pilots. We’re about 1,500 pilots short across the total Air Force, and close to 1,000 of those are Active Duty fighter pilots.” The amended budget also seeks more F-35A strike fighters, which is one of the top items on the service’s unfunded priorities list. The Air Force’s Fiscal 2017 budget that’s already been presented to Capitol Hill includes 43 F-35As, 24 MQ-9 Reapers, and 15 KC-46A Pegasus tankers. Disbrow said the Air Force also plans to request “fourth and fifth gen aircraft mods, weapons system cyber resilience, and readiness infrastructure” in the amended budget. It’s also looking to invest in “leap-ahead technologies,” that will allow USAF to better “compile, store, and use data,” said Disbrow, who noted the service has “asked for additional funds to accelerate the prototyping of these technologies.” If Congress approves the additional funds, Disbrow said “it will begin to address our concerns, but we also need to find ways to continue to do things smarter and better. The Air Force also is working with the Defense Department to rework the Fiscal 2018-2022 budget, which Disbrow said she expected to be presented to the Hill “early this summer.”
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