Photograph: U.S. Air Force

Air Force May Need To Cut F-35s With Budget Crunch, CRS Says

December 14, 2015
By Tony Capaccio

(Bloomberg) — Air Force FY16-20 aircraft research procurement plans are the beginning of major spending surge threatening to overwhelm service budget over next decade, Congressional Research Service says in report obtained by Bloomberg.

  • Reducing planned annual 60 F-35 purchases is an option listed by CRS in “The Air Force Aviation Investment Challenge” report
  • Planned spending for F-35, KC-46 tanker “substantial, steady,” CRS says
  • NOTE: Current AF plan calls for spending surge in FY18-19 for 9 aircraft programs, including new bomber, tanker, F-35
  • Air Force budgeted $72.7b through FY20 for 9 programs; F-35 purchases represent 42% of that total, CRS data shows
  • Total budget required combined with budget caps in place through 2021 “poses significant challenge to AF budgeters”
  • CRS says current method of displaying Pentagon budget in five-year increments “makes visualizing future budgetary needs difficult”; says revising Pentagon budget estimates to 10 from 5 yrs might better illustrate decisions needed early “to avoid budgetary ‘train wrecks.’ ”
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