On 28 May 2021, the Department of the Air Force (DAF) released its Fiscal Year 2022 (FY 22) budget proposal. The FY 22 budget proposal revealed no big surprises.
The USAF will mainly focus on investing in people and capability by building its future force and delivering joint lethality and effectiveness. USAF's priorities will be the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD), the Air Force’s future air superiority capability and the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), the Department’s contribution to Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2).
The USD 173.7 billion request includes the USAF and US Space Force budgets for 2022. Operation and Maintenance (O&M) is the largest portion of the request, accounting for 38% or USD 66.6 billion.
O&M dollars go directly toward funding day to day operations and are critical to sustaining readiness. Significant Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) funding areas will include further growth for the B-21 Raider, B-52H Stratofortress and F-35A programmes.
In order to focus resources modernisation efforts, the budget also includes proposals to right size aging, costly, and less-than-capable legacy systems by retiring more than 200 aircraft. Aircraft that have now been earmarked to be flown to Davis Monthan's 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) comprise 48 F-15C/D Eagles, 47 F-16C/D Fighting Falcons, 42 A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, 20 RQ-4B Block 30/40 Global Hawks, 18 KC-135R/T Stratotankers, 14 KC-10A Extenders, 13 C-130H Hercules, and four E-8C Joint STARS aircraft.
The FY 22 Procurement budget for the USAF represents USD 22.9 billion. The Air Force seeks to procure advanced weapon systems like the hypersonic Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), and increasing the budget for the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) to provide quantities of advanced weaponry needed to deter future conflicts. The USAF also requests the purchase of additional F-35A Lightning II, KC-46A Pegasus, F-15EX Eagle II and MC-130J Commando II aircraft.
Almost simultaneously, the USAF announced plans to base new aircraft at Robins AFB (GA), beginning in FY 22. As the DAF requested to begin retiring four E-8s next year, this would make way for new E-11 Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) aircraft and the repurposing of approximately 2,000 Robins active duty and Air National Guard airmen. Earlier Scramble Magazine wrote about that the BACN Programme Office would procure six additional E-11As over the next five years.
The FY22 budget proposal now goes to US Congress for its consideration. Under the typical schedule, the budget must be approved and signed into law by the president by 1 October 2021, when the new fiscal year begins.
Credit photos: USAF and AVgeeks