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​The Air Force's Fiscal 2019 budget request scraps the JSTARS recapitalization program, but provides funds to modernize the E-3 AWACS, to help keep the E-8C JSTARS flying into the mid-2020s. Here an AWACS and a JSTARS sit on the flightline at Robins AFB, Ga., in 2017. Air National Guard photo by SMSgt. Roger Parsons.


USAF’s Fiscal 2019 Budget Aims to Reverse Deterioration of Readiness

The Air Force’s Fiscal 2019 blue budget requests $156.3 billion, including $15.6 billion in overseas contingency operations. It adds another 4,700 airmen, bringing total endstrength back up to 506,200. The budget also includes funds to begin re-engining the B-52 fleet, which it now intends to keep in service into the 2050s, begins low-rate initial production of the Combat Rescue Helicopter, and takes steps to address the pilot shortage. The service has decided not to continue with the JSTARS recapitalization program, providing funds instead to upgrade the E-3 AWACS to help keep the JSTARS viable through the mid-2020s. “It has to be survivable … if we recap the current JSTARS, we’ll have an aircraft that still can’t do more than it can today, in fact it’ll probably even be able to do less because it will be in a more competitive and contested environment,” said Maj. Gen. John Pletcher, USAF budget chief, during the rollout on Monday. “The idea is to pull all of these different sensors and essentially create more agility and resiliency in developing that picture for the warfighter.” Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

DOD's Fiscal 2019 Budget Calls for 10 Percent Increase in Funding

The Pentagon is requesting $686.1 billion for Fiscal 2019, a $74 billion jump from its current funding levels, with additional money aimed at addressing a potential power struggle with China and Russia. The total budget also includes increased funding for both the war against ISIS and in Afghanistan, with large increases in funding for the weapons most used in those fights. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.


F-35A Production Back Up to 48 Per Year, 110 Still Elusive

The Air Force plans to buy 48 F-35A fighters in its Fiscal 2019 budget request, a modest increase from the Fiscal 2018 request of 46. Funding for this procurement is set at $5.23 billion for 2019, down from last year’s request of $5.71 billion. The Air Force is trying to “balance” the need to stock up with new aircraft versus the fact that those already built need to be modified, Air Force Undersecretary Matt Donovan said. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

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Air Superiority Account a Placeholder for Family of Systems

The Air Force has a new budget category for Future Air Superiority studies and investigations, but has not yet decided to move ahead with concepts such as the Penetrating Counterair Aircraft or the so-called “arsenal plane.” The new category doesn’t include fighter aircraft upgrades or new air-to-air munitions, but will fund investigations into how all those things will work together. Air Force budgeteers said it’s not yet clear if the successor to the F-22 and F-35 will be “another platform.” Read the full story by John A. Tirpak. 

Donovan Says Force-Sizing Construct Will Come in FY ‘20 Budget

Despite a new budget, the Pentagon has not yet adopted a new force-sizing construct that spells out the specific types and numbers of forces needed to assure US security. Air Force Undersecretary Matt Donovan told an AFA Mitchell Institute audience that there is some growth in squadrons by virtue of buying more F-35s, but the overall force size has not been decided yet. Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva also recently explained that the force-sizing construct will emerge from the “tension” between two very different world war scenarios. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Air Force Budget Shifts Funding from SBIRS to Next-Generation Missile Warning Technology

Funding for Air Force space programs increased by eight percent in Fiscal 2019, but procurement funding dropped. In addition, the service also announced it will discontinue procurement of the seventh and eighth Space-Based Infrared System missile warning satellites, as it shifts its focus to launching next-generation missi​le warning technology in the 2020s. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.

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RADAR SWEEP


—The Israeli Air Force says the Iranian drone it shot down on Saturday on its border with Syria was a copy of the USAF RQ-170 that Iran intercepted in 2011: CNN.

—The Air Force on Friday awarded Spartan Air Academy Iraq, out of Addison, Texas, a $45 million contract to help train the Iraq Air Force: Defense Department release.

—Air Education and Training Command on Friday released its 2018 Strategic Plan, aimed at developing an “innovative mindset:” AETC release.

—Airmen from the 57th Rescue Squadron returned to RAF Lakenheath, England, on Feb. 8 from a deployment to Afghanistan. While deployed, the airmen worked alongside Army aviators flying personnel recovery missions on CH-47 Chinooks: 48th Fighter Wing release.