Air Force Quiet After Navy, Army Leaders Lobby for Cash
Last week, top leaders from the Navy and Army publicly argued that their service should get a larger percentage of the Pentagon budget. The Air Force, however, appeared to be standing pat. Now comes a report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment that says the Air Force needs more (and newer) planes. (It did not, however, call for taking any money away from the Army or Navy). The report focuses primarily on the combat air forces — think fighters, bombers and drones. These "should be sized for great power conflict," the report said. "Preparing to prevent China and Russia from succeeding in major acts of aggression should be a fundamental force design priority for the Air Force's future [combat air forces]." Other recommendations: buy more stealthy planes, like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and B-21 Raider bomber.
How much money will the Air Force need to do this? The CSBA report doesn't say, but the National Defense Strategy Commission recommended the defense budget grow three to five percent above the rate of inflation annually. Over 10 years, that would amount to about $8 billion more for the Air Force. "That much in acquisition would fund a lot of the capabilities we recommend," Mark Gunzinger, one of the CSBA report's authors said Wednesday.
One thing that's missing in all the lobbying for new weapons: People. No one seems to be talking about the additional sailors needed to crew a 355-ship Navy or pilots to fly the planes in a larger Air Force.
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