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Feb. 15, 2011The Air Force is requesting $119 billion in its Fiscal 2012 baseline budget request, released Monday, plus another $16.4 billion to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This $135.4 billion spending proposal—for Air Force-specific activities—grows to $166.3 billion when factoring the additional $30.9 billion that the service is requesting to cover its share of joint programs in Fiscal 2012, such as military health care, intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance initiatives, and special operations.

That topline is $4.5 billion less than the Air Force's budget request for Fiscal 2011, which is still pending Congressional approval even though the current fiscal year is already in its fifth month (see CR Woes and Gates Would Settle for Less in Fiscal 2011). The difference primarily has to do with the decrease in overseas contingency operations funding requested in Fiscal 2012. While the OCO request would fully fund the war in Afghanistan for the entire fiscal year, it would only partially fund operations in Iraq since the Air Force is expected to withdraw all airmen from theater by Dec. 31, said Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers, USAF's deputy assistant secretary for budget.

Of the $119 billion baseline request, $75.5 billion (63 percent) would support day-to-day operations for airmen, $22.5 billion (19 percent) would go towards procurement, $19 billion (16 percent) would cover research and development activities, and $2 billion (2 percent) would support military construction, housing, and BRAC initiatives.

Among the notables in the baseline spending request, the Air Force would launch a project to develop a new bomber for fielding in the mid 2020s, initiate a new space acquisition strategy, and continue forward with the acquisition of new tanker aircraft. It would also truncate the buy of Global Hawk Block 40 remotely piloted aircraft.

USAF's priorities have not changed since the President submitted his Fiscal 2011 defense budget request. The Air Force would dedicate $5.2 billion to strengthening the nuclear enterprise, to include $160 million for a B-2 defense management system, an IT backbone system, and extension of the Minuteman III ICBM to 2030. Other priorities include $813 million toward programs that support airmen and their families, funding to modernize air, space, and cyber inventories, and to continue to "recapture acquisition excellence."

"The Air Force Fiscal 2012 budget request reflects an extraordinary effort to ensure America gets the maximum value out of every dollar," according to the service's budget overview released Monday. The document continues, "Priorities articulated and funded in this budget request provide a strong foundation to ensure generations of airmen can fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace. Since the future security environment will require a range of agile and flexible capabilities, investments for today's conflict will also support our efforts to prepare, prevent, prevail, and preserve future capability."

The budget proposal funds a Total Force end strength of 510,900 airmen (active duty personnel, Air National Guardsmen, Air Force Reservists)—a number that is not expected to change throughout the newly released five year defense plan. It includes an increase of 600 personnel due primarily to an increase in intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capabilities, bringing the service's active duty end strength up to 332,800. There is also an increase of 200 Reservists tied to a new C-130 training squadron at Little Rock AFB, Ark., bringing the total Reserve force to 71,400.

It supports 1.2 million flying hours and sustaining the fleet of more than 5,500 aircraft.

Flowers noted that the service was able to "slow the growth of the cost of doing business" by roughly 2 percentage points, by applying $3.4 billion of the anticipated $33.3 billion in efficiency savings over the next five fiscal years in Fiscal 2012.

The Air Force would provide $3.7 billion from Fiscal 2012 through Fiscal 2016 toward the development of a new long-range strike penetrating bomber that is nuclear capable with the option of being unmanned, beginning with $197 million in Fiscal 2012. The plan calls for procuring 80 to 100 new bombers with an initial operational capability in the mid-2020s, said Flowers.

"Right now we are leveraging the mature technology effort and the number of aircraft and any information we learn from the work that's being done already is classified," said Flowers, who said the service has not yet awarded a contract, but said even the request for proposals will be kept under wraps. He noted, "The only thing that's unclassified at this point is the funding."

The Air Force wants to purchase 61 manned and 51 unmanned aircraft in Fiscal 2012 for a total of $14.1 billion. On the unmanned side, this includes 48 MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft—the maximum number that manufacturer General Atomics can push out annually—and three RQ-4 Global Hawks. On the manned side, the breakdown is 19 F-35A strike fighters (three less than requested in Fiscal 2011), nine light attack armed reconnaissance aircraft, nine C-27Js, six MC-130Js, five CV-22B Ospreys, three HC-130Js, three HH-60Gs, three C-37As (lease-to-purchase options), two common vertical lift support platforms, one C-130J, and one AC-130.

In its OCO request, the Air Force seeks to buy one CV-22 and HH-60 to replace combat losses.

USAF would also upgrade the engines on 11 C-5s, conduct fuel tank upgrades on C-17s, and continue installing new avionics on H-model C-130s, said Flowers.

The Fiscal 2012 budget proposal includes research funding to continue development of four KC-X demonstration aircraft. Air Force officials said the continuing resolution will not affect the service's ability to award the full KC-X tanker contract, which officials have said they hope to announce next month.

Along with the 2012 budget request, the Air Force is rolling out a completely new acquisition strategy for space, which it's calling the evolutionary acquisition for space efficiency strategy, or EASE. It focuses on block buys, fixed-price contracts, and a stable engineering line.

Under EASE, the Air Force will start the procurement of two Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites in Fiscal 2012 for a total of $550 million. It also will put $185 million into advanced procurement for the Space Based Infrared System with the intention of spending another $550 million in Fiscal 2013 for two SBIRS satellites.

"This is a block buy of satellites, which is more efficient. It helps to stabilize production and protect the technology. It's just a smarter way of buying satellites as opposed to buying them one at a time," Flowers said.

The Air Force also would purchase four Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles in Fiscal 2012 and Fiscal 2013 and the Navy will purchase one each year. In Fiscal 2014, the Air Force will purchase five more EELVs, he said.

The Air Force would spend $19 billion on research, development, test, and evaluation, compared to the $18.2 billion requested in Fiscal 2011. That represents a 2 percent real growth in RDT&E.

The RDT&E funding also would support the continued development for two Defense Weather Satellite Systems with a launch date expected no later than 2018, on orbit checkout for SBIRS GEO-1 and launch of GEO-2. It also provides funding for F-35 flight testing and F-22 increment 3.2 software design and coding upgrades.

Officials plan on spending $25 million on structural studies regarding the F-16 service life extension program; however, Flowers said there are no plans at this time to procure any actual SLEP kits.

The budget includes about $300 million across the FYDP for a new trainer aircraft for fighters and bombers—the T-X—starting with $16 million in Fiscal 2012, but officials have not released any procurement quantities as of yet.

There is no funding in the budget for a new start of a sixth-generation fighter and the Air Force intends to truncate the Block 40 Global Hawk program at 11 aircraft, using the savings instead to upgrade electro-optical and infrared cameras on Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft.

The budget includes a $97 million increase over the Fiscal 2011 request for military construction, which includes funding for the initial beddown of F-35s at Hill AFB, Utah; Nellis AFB, Nev.; and Luke AFB, Ariz., as well as for the beddown of F-22s at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. It also includes funding for eight dorm projects, 10 facility/infrastructure improvement projects "to support commanders' most critical needs," and it incrementally funds a new US Strategic Command headquarters building at Offutt AFB, Neb., as well as other joint programs.

As part of the service's efficiency effort, it will consolidate four air operations centers—two in Europe and two in the United States. The 603rd AOC and the 617th AOC will be consolidated overseas and the 601st AOC in Florida and the 612th AOC in Arizona will be consolidated stateside. In addition, the service will merge the staffs of three numbered air forces—13th AF, 17th AF, and the 19th AF. The major command headquarters at those locations will pick up a majority of the work from the consolidation, Flowers said.

In air mobility, the service expects to save $715 million across the FYDP, including $136 million beginning in Fiscal 2012. It also plans to reduce the communications infrastructure by 25 percent.

"The Fiscal 2012 budget request meets goals set forth by [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates and begins implementation of DOD's efficiencies by shifting overhead dollars toward modernization and decreasing operating costs across the Air Force enterprise," according to the budget overview.