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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Air Force is planning to cut 12,000 active-duty airmen from the force in fiscal 2007 while spending billions of dollars to complete its purchase of the C-17 transport fleet and continue purchasing the F-22 Raptor.

The Air Force is asking for an additional $6.3 billion for fiscal 2007, an increase from the $124.1 billion received from Congress in fiscal 2006 to $130.4 billion requested in fiscal 2007.

After taking away $24.5 billion for the costs of classified “black” programs and fixed, mandatory health care spending from the bottom line, the Air Force is left with $105.9 billion in “direct support” to spend in fiscal 2007, according to Maj. Gen. Frank Faykes, Air Force deputy assistant secretary for budget.

To streamline the force, the active-duty roster will be cut by 11,954 jobs in fiscal 2007, with another 1,000 job cuts coming from the civilian workforce, Faykes told Pentagon reporters Monday.

The coming drawdown — which comes on top of the 16,500 airmen cut from the force in 2006 to meet congressional limits — is part of a plan to reduce the Air Force by 40,000 total personnel by fiscal 2011.

One of the few areas of growth in the 2007 budget request is construction. The Air Force’s 2007 $1.3 billion military construction request is the largest in the last 15 years, Faykes said.

That sum would pay for 85 major projects, including nine dormitories, one fitness center and a chapel, as well as hangars for the C-17 Globemaster III and F-22A Raptor.

Some Pentagon watchers predicted 2007 would be the year the Air Force might lose its cherished “transformational centerpiece,” the F-22.

Instead, Pentagon officials decided to keep the F-22, but cut the final size of the fleet from the Air Force’s preferred number, 381 fighters, to 183.

The proposed 2007 budget for the F-22 is $2.9 billion. That money does not buy new aircraft, but finishes paying Lockheed Martin for Raptors that were contracted for in fiscal 2005 and are still rolling off the production line, Faykes said.

The fiscal 2007 budget includes $2.9 billion to buy 12 more C-17 transport planes, which will complete the service’s fleet at 180 aircraft. The budget also includes money to close down the C-17 production line and store all the tooling.

The Air Force is setting aside $867 million to buy nine more C-130J transport aircraft, which are meant to replace older model C-130s that are close to retirement, Faykes said.

The budget for unmanned aerial vehicles, which have proved their mettle in Afghanistan and Iraq, includes $287 million to purchase another 24 Predator aircraft and $504 million to buy six more Global Hawk long-range surveillance UAVs and three Global Hawk ground stations.

One budget item added specifically to address the threat of shoulder-fired missiles that could take down an aircraft during takeoffs and landings at places such as Baghdad International Airport is the Air Force’s Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures program. The program includes $212 million to modify 22 C-17s and C-130s, Faykes said.


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