WASHINGTON — This year’s defense budget includes the first planned decrease in the Air Force’s annual funding in 15 years, as the service trims back on research and construction spending.
Air Force officials are requesting $149.9 billion in non-war spending for fiscal 2012, about $200 million below what the service wanted last year. Under the budget plans, officials would actually spend almost $1 billion more in research and development for future systems, even as aircraft procurement is slashed by almost $2 billion for the near term.
The proposal also holds flat the service’s end strength and total flight hours outside of war zone requirements. And despite less money for purchasing aircraft, officials still plan on adding 61 manned planes and 51 unmanned drones next year.
Long-range bomber fans: The Air Force still isn’t releasing any details about the family of long-range systems, including the bomber. But they plan on spending $3.7 billion on the effort over the next five years.
Airmen living in Japan, UK: Even though overall military construction spending is down (and could drop behind schedule if Congress doesn’t OK more fiscal 2011 soon), the service plans to refurbish 1,361 units in those two countries next year.
Space specialists: New block-buying plans mean the Air Force will save money by committing to purchase 10 new satellites in coming years, including two in fiscal 2012.
Joint Strike Fighter pilots: The Air Force still plans on buying 19 of the aircraft next year, but that’s three fewer than long-term planners had hoped for in 2012. Over the next five years, they expect to get 57 fewer than originally planned.
Logistics operations: About $300 million of the service’s operations and maintenance cuts will come from behind-the-scenes administrative and management programs.
Odd-numbered Air Forces: The plans are still in place to consolidate the 13th, 17th and 19th Air Forces as part of cost-savings measures announced last month. The 603rd and 617th air and space operations centers are also set to merge, as are the 601st and 612th.
BY THE NUMBERS:
48 — Total unmanned MQ-9A Reapers the service will purchase next year.
3.3 million — Total tons of cargo moved around the world by the service in 2011
$77.2 billion — How much the Air Force budget has increased in the last 15 years.