The Air Force Aviation Investment Challenge
Congressional Research Service/Library of Congress Washington
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The United States Air Force is in the midst of an ambitious aviation modernization program, driven primarily by the age of its current aircraft fleets. Four major programs are in procurement, with five more in research and development R and D.The need to replace several types of aircraft simultaneously poses challenges to future budgets, as the new programs compete with existing program commitments and normal program growth under a restricted service topline. The impending expiration of caps imposed by the Balanced Budget Act coincides with when modernization programs can be expected to experience the most growth, but does not necessarily offer sufficient relief to avoid program cuts or other funding approaches.To meet its modernization requirements, the Air Force may need to revise that topline, defer or delay other programs including possibly reducing the quantity of aircraft already in procurement, or find other sources of funding to carry all its plans to fruition. Some specific options may include but are not limited to raising the Air Force topline andor the aviation modernization share pusharounds or reductions in Air Force programs and activities other than modernization reducing annual quantities of the F-35A further retarding the growth of R and D programs deferring the KC-Y follow-on tanker funding the long-range strike bomber through a non-Air Force budget. This report examines these options in further detail.
- Administration and Management