Balancing the need to sustain its fleet while embarking on key bomber and fighter procurement programmes, the US Air Force finds itself pressured as the demand to meet new challenges increases. Richard Thomas explores the key issues.
Releasing its Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget proposal on May 28, 2021, the United States Department of the Air Force stated that its focus would be on investing in people and capability, while working to build a force fit to fight the battles of the future. The request itself amounted to $173.7bn, including the budget of the US Air Force (USAF) and US Space Force (USSF) – split $156.3bn (a +2.3% increase compared to the previous year) and $17.4bn (a +13.1% increase), respectively.
The FY22 procurement budget was set at $25.6bn, with the USAF’s portion representing $22.9bn, which would aid in the purchase of, among others, platforms such as the F-35 fighter, KC-46 Pegasus tanker, F-15EX Eagle II, and MC-130J aircraft, to “ensure near-term readiness while advancing fifth-generation aircraft to outpace competitors.”