Military

U.S. Department of Defense
Press Operations
News Transcript

Presenter: Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, Major General John M. Pletcher; Carolyn M. Gleason, Deputy for Budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller February 12, 2018

Department Of Defense Press Briefing on the Fiscal Year 2019 Air Force Budget


STAFF: All right, ladies and gentlemen, I'm Captain Hope Cronin. I'll be facilitating the Q&A portion of this session.

Before we begin, a couple of reminders. First, this presentation is on the record. Second, when you do ask your questions, I ask, for the sake of everyone here, that you identify your name -- yourself by name and affiliation before you ask your question.

Also, ask that you limit yourself to one follow-on question so that we have the chance to address as many organizations as possible. If we have extra time, we'll go back around the room.

If we don't get to all of your questions, Anne and Erika are here to take any follow-on questions you may have.

Without further delay, ladies and gentlemen, Major General John Pletcher and Ms. Carolyn Gleason.

MAJOR GENERAL JOHN M. PLETCHER: Thanks, Hope.

Well, good afternoon, everybody. As Hope (ph) said, I'm Major General John Pletcher. I'm the director of Air Force budget. This is my deputy, Ms. Carolyn Gleason. And we're looking forward to briefing you on the Air Force's F.Y. '19 President's Budget. Next slide, please.

Today, we'll lay out the details of the Air Force's fiscal year 2019 budget to highlight the investments necessary to confront the reemergence of great power competition in a more dangerous international security environment than we have seen in generations.

We'll first briefly discuss the strategic environment, before laying out the Air Force's fiscal year '19 budget priorities. Then we'll provide some budget highlights in key areas addressed by this budget, emphasizing how this budget moves us forward to outpace the efforts of our competitors before jumping into the numbers and discussing the specific appropriation level details.

Finally, we'll touch on our overseas contingency operations account and how air and space power are indispensable to every joint force operation before providing some closing thoughts and opening the floor to your questions.

Let's start with a look at the current strategic environment.

Next slide, please.

The international security environment has become more complex, competitive and dangerous than we have seen in decades. And that is -- and it is the environment that shaped and influenced the 2000 National Security Strategy, the recently released 2018 National Defense Strategy and, ultimately, this budget.

China is rapidly modernizing its military and seeks regional preeminence. Russia aims to restore its national prestige and has shown its willingness to use military force and coercion in Europe and the Middle East. North Korea is using the threat of nuclear weapons to secure the survival of their regime and Iran continues to be a source of instability in the Middle East through the sponsorship of terrorism and exploitation of internal conflicts in the region.

Violent extremist organizations in the Middle East, north Africa and south Asia continues to create instability and threaten our homeland, our allies and our partners.

In this environment, there can be no complacency. We must make difficult choices and prioritize what is most important to fuel the lethal, resilient and rapidly adapting joint force. America's military has no preordained right to victory in the air or on the battlefield.

These global trends are eroding our advantages in air and space and widening the gap between combatant commanders demands and our ready, available resources.

The fiscal year '19 budget request moves the Air Force in the direction of multi-domain operations, as future wars will be won by those who observe, orient, decide and act faster than their adversaries in an integrated way across all domains, including land, sea, air, space and cyberspace.

As we look at possible future scenarios, we find that the warfighting advantages we've long held over our adversaries are quickly diminishing. In this complex security environment, the Air Force must have the right size and mix of agile, lethal capabilities brought to bear by airmen steeped in the business of joint operations and combined warfare to compete, deter and win.

Shaped by this strategic outlook and in alignment with the National Defense Strategy, the Air Force fiscal year '19 president's budget request is built off six key budget priorities, designed to accelerate readiness and increase lethality to confront the reemergence of great power competition. The next slide outlines these six budget priorities.

Next slide, please.

Accelerating warfighter readiness continues to remain our primary objective. Readiness is the -- first and foremost about having enough trained people, and this budget boosts our training pipeline capacity, expands pilot training and address experience shortfalls, continues incentive pays and bonuses, improves administrative support at the squadron level and funds flying hours to maximum executable levels.

Second, this budget supports a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent. Deterrence works when our adversaries know that we can hold what they value at risk. The Air Force stewards two legs of the triad, and the nuclear mission continues to be a top priority for our Air Force.

Third, underfunded in modernization for over a decade, the fiscal year '19 budget request targets cost-effective modernization to increase the lethality of the force. This budget proposes modernization and recapitalization of key aircraft in order to retain affordable capacity, including continued buys of the F-35 and the KC-46, as well as funding for upgrades to fourth-generation fighters.

This budget also continues development of the B-21 bomber as a key component to the joint portfolio of conventional and nuclear deep strike capabilities, providing our nation's leaders with the ability to hold targets at risk around the world.

Fourth, this F.Y. '19 budget continues to show the Air Force's commitment to moving faster to defendable space by accelerating our efforts to deter, defend and prevail against anyone who seeks to deny our ability to freely operate in space. This budget recognizes that adversaries are developing the ability to deny our free use of space, and includes capabilities to confront that threat.

Fifth, the importance of networked battle management is clear in the F.Y. '19 Air Force budget. Integrating capabilities that span all domains of warfare will be required for success in future combat. We are advancing our command-and-control systems to reflect the changing character of warfare.

This approach will network sensors from space, air, land and sea, and fuse information to create a more comprehensive picture to support the joint fight, even in a highly contested environment.

Sixth, the National Defense Strategy emphasizes the importance of alliances and partnerships. The F.Y. '19 budget reinforces the Air Force's commitment to our allies and international partners through funding for the European Deterrence Initiative and Indo-Pacific security initiatives.

And, finally, while this budget proposes additional resources for the Air Force, we have to gain full value from every taxpayer dollar we spend. We will drive innovation, reinforce budget discipline and affordability and deliver performance with the funds entrusted to us through our continued commitment to auditable financial statements and implementation of the department's broader reform initiatives.

With these priorities in mind, let's take a look at the highlights of our fiscal year '19 budget request.

Next slide, please.

We'll look at the budget highlights through two lenses. On this slide, we'll highlight programs and investments that are a continuation of ongoing focus areas from prior year budgets, before jumping to slide 6 to highlight investments that reflect a change in focus to confront the reemergence of great power competition.

First, the fiscal year '19 budget continues our emphasis on readiness for the full spectrum of conflict through every Air Force mission as we build a more lethal, resilient and agile force. Specifically, this budget funds approximately 1.5 million flying hours, with about 1.2 million of those hours for peacetime training, to continue our efforts to accelerate readiness.

Additionally, this budget request invests over $15 billion in weapon system sustainment programs, enabling the Air Force to sustain a very wide range of platforms at a manageable level of risk.

This budget also begins to address the impact of years of sustained combat operations by increasing our preferred munitions funding to current industry capacity, thereby allowing us to reverse previously declining inventory levels.

Finally, this budget increases funds for training ranges, instructors, simulators and key training infrastructure to improve the quality of our training, thereby enabling relevant, realistic training for the multi-domain environment and better preparing our airmen to compete and win against peer and near-peer competitors.

Second, the F.Y. '19 budget request supports our commitment to our people. This budget increases the size of the Air Force by 4,700 military personnel, to include active, guard and reserve.

Additionally, this budget submission funds important support to airmen and families, with a 2.6 percent military pay raise, increased housing and subsistence allowances, a continuing commitment to family support programs and purposeful development of airmen to strengthen our joint warfighting excellence.

Third, the F.Y. '19 budget request supports our commitment to maintaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent, the cornerstone of national and international security and stability.

It begins with funding increases to our nuclear command, control and communications, or NC3, systems, to link decision-makers to nuclear forces without fail and under all conditions.

In this budget we also begin development of the replacement engine for the B-52H, and continue development of the ground-based strategic deterrent and the long-range standoff missile.

And, fourth, the F.Y. '19 budget request continues to cost-effectively fund the Air Force's major fleet modernization initiatives to increase the lethality of the force.

This budget supports the purchase of 48 F-35s, 15 KC-46s and continued development of the B-21 bomber. This budget request also supports the development of the T-X advanced trainer aircraft and the purchase of the combat rescue helicopter, confirming the Air Force's commitment to leave no one behind.

Now let's take a look at the budget highlights associated with changes that support the reemergence of great power competition.

Next slide please.

First, space has become a contested domain. In F.Y. '19 the president's budget request makes certain critical space missions and capabilities more resilient and defendable against growing threats, to ensure those capabilities will be there to support the joint warfighter, our allies and the nation as a whole.

This budget improves the protection and defense of national security space assets in a contested environment through investments in space situational awareness, battle management, indications and warnings, and command and control.

We fund advancements in survivable missile warning, resilient, strategic and operating (ph) satellite communications, and steerable high-power anti-jam capabilities for our Global Positioning System.

To meet the growing threats this nation faces, the Air Force's F.Y. '19 budget request reflects an overall 8 percent increase in space funding, compared to F.Y. '18, marking the second consecutive year of significant increases in the space portfolio.

Second, the F.Y. '19 budget focuses on multi-domain command and control. Technological advances continue to change the character of warfare. This budget proposes to improve the way we execute battlefield management command and control in a multi-domain environment.

Instead of recapitalizing JSTARS, a platform which is not viable in the contested environment prioritized in the National Defense Strategy, this budget reallocates that funding to achieve advanced battle management system for the future through a new incremental approach.

This effort leverages existing and emerging sensor technologies from space-, air- and ground-based sensors, coupled with an agile, resilient communications architecture to integrate and fuse information for the joint warfighter in both contested and uncontested environments.

This advanced battlefield management system will significantly improve battlefield awareness and enable faster, smarter decisions that will give us the winning edge.

Third, the Air Force's fiscal year '19 budget accelerates air superiority initiatives to ensure the ability to gain and maintain control of the skies against major challengers, not only today but in 2030 and beyond.

We are moving forward with an analysis of alternatives to explore the next generation of air superiority technology, because the joint force depends on our ability to gain and maintain air superiority when needed against peer and near-peer competitors.

This analysis shifts focus from a platform approach to a family-of-systems approach, needed to ensure the Air Force maintains command of the air in an increasingly contested battle space of the future.

This budget also continues investment in fifth-generation aircraft, as well as invests in fourth-generation assets through continued improvements to the F-15 and F-16.

Fourth, the Air Force will continue the light attack experimentation in F.Y. '18 with the goal of developing a concept of operations and further defining requirements. The second experiment will focus on data networking, maintenance concepts and sensors.

The results of the continued experiment will enable a decision to begin a formal acquisition program to fuel the force of U.S. and coalition light attack aircraft over the five-year plan, which would free up fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft to counter the emerging threats highlighted in the National Defense Strategy.

Finally, this budget request focuses on driving the right investments in science and technology by restoring the emphasis on basic and applied research designed to maximize innovation and drive dominance in air and space power.

The budget increases funding in National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships and continues to invest in game-changing technologies that, when fielded, will increase lethality and provide the joint force with a greater technological advantage. Science and technology focus areas will be further refined, following the completion of the Air Force's 12-month S&P review later this year.

As demonstrated by these highlights, the F.Y. '19 budget request sets the conditions to deliver a more lethal, globally responsive air and space force to meet current and future threats. With these highlights in mind, let's take a look at the dollar breakdown of the fiscal year '19 budget request.

Next slide, please.

The stacked bars depict a breakout by appropriation of the fiscal years '18 and '19 budget requests. These bars represent the total force budget request, to include active, guard and reserve. When you exclude the $37.9 billion passthrough, the Air Force budget for F.Y. '19, including both base and overseas contingency operations, is $156.3 billion; a 6.6 percent overall increase from the fiscal year '18 request.

As you can see, the largest increases are in research, development, test and evaluation budget and our military personnel budget, with details provided in subsequent slides.

Of note, with Congress's passage of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement for fiscal years '18 and '19 last week, the Air Force's F.Y. '18 (ph) appropriations will be different, and likely higher in total, than F.Y. '18 P.B. numbers annotated in this briefing.

Furthermore, the base to OCO mix in the F.Y. '19 budget request will also change, primarily in our Operations and Maintenance accounts. However, the overall total of $156.3 billion for F.Y. '19 will remain the same.

Now, we'll look at each appropriation, from largest to smallest, starting with our Operations and Maintenance accounts.

Next slide, please.

Programs funded through our Operations and Maintenance, or O&M appropriation, are critical to our long-term efforts to restore readiness and improve lethality. As you can see, our F.Y. '19 budget shows modest growth in O&M over the F.Y. '18 request. Let me take a moment to highlight a few O&M programs that will help us achieve our readiness and lethality goals.

Accelerating warfighter readiness to win any fight, any place, any time is a primary objective of the Air Force. The baseline budget increases funding for our two largest readiness accounts by funding nearly 1.2 million peacetime flying hours out of the 1.5 million hours funded in total between base and OCO budgets.

And this budget resources our weapons system sustainment requirements at a manageable level of risk, with a combined base and OCO investment of $15.1 billion.

This budget also increases funds for training ranges, simulators, instructors and key infrastructure required to improve the quality of our training in alignment with the priorities of the National Defense Strategy, targeting peer and near-peer competitors.

Additionally, within this budget, we were able to fund facility sustainment to 80 percent.

In summary, given the major challenges that face our nation, this budget increases investment in our O&M appropriation to accelerate our efforts to compete, deter and win against anyone who wishes to deny our ability to freely operate across the multi-domain warfighting environments.

Now, we'll turn our attention to military personnel appropriations.

Next slide, please.

Our fiscal year '19 P.B. request supports increased end strength to further reduce critical gaps in our force. This request grows total force military end strength to just over 506,000 military members in F.Y. '19, an increase of 4,700 over a projected 2018 end strength, with an active duty increase of 4,000 airmen and combined increases to our Guard and Reserve of 700 members.

In terms of mission sets, this budget targets personnel shortfalls in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, remotely piloted aircraft and cyber career fields.

Additionally, in areas where we have previously closed the manning gap, such as our maintenance career field, the focus now shifts to closing the experience gap. Since it takes, on average, five to seven years to turn an apprentice maintainer into a craftsman, we need stability and predictability in budgets and manpower levels to correct this experience shortfall.

Specific efforts within the F.Y. '19 budget to address the pilot shortfall include continuing the increase in targeted pilot retention bonuses we began in F.Y. '18, as well as focusing on non-monetary efforts, such as increasing airmen's input in assignment and other personnel processes, increasing administrative support for squadrons, reducing additional duties and eliminating lower-priority computer-based training.

These efforts, along with our efforts in our O&M budget to increase and optimize pilot production, will improve quality of life for our airmen and strengthen their ability to be leaders in the joint multi-domain environment. Furthermore, the F.Y. '19 budget increases -- or requests a 2.6 percent pay raise for our airmen, with additional increases to housing and subsistence allowances.

Additionally, to support retention, we'll continue to offer incentive pay and bonuses, encouraging experienced airmen to stay, and we'll also continue higher tenure extensions for personnel in critical career fields. Through these initiatives, the Air Force will be better postured, with a proper number of trained airmen, to compete, deter and win any fight, any place, any time.

Now, let's take a look at our F.Y. '19 budget request for the research, development, testing and evaluation, also known as RDT&E.

Next slide, please.

Our fiscal year '19 RDT&E budget is an increase of $4.8 billion over our F.Y. '18 request, marking a two-year increase of $10 billion over F.Y. '17. This budget focuses on cost-effective modernization and key capabilities called out in the National Defense Strategy.

Faced with an eroding technology advantage in an international environment of great power competition, this F.Y. '19 RDT&E budget invests heavily in innovative technologies, funds the modernization of our nuclear force and transforms major space capabilities to better perform in a contested environment.

It also directs funding to game-changing technologies, such as hypersonics, directed energy, unmanned autonomous artificial intelligence and machine learning systems, and nanotechnology.

This request increases funding to continue development of our next-generation bomber, the B-21 Raider, which will provide critical flexibility across a wide range of military operations, providing both conventional and nuclear capabilities.

This budget also continues investment in the 2030 and beyond air superiority family of systems, through the next-generation air dominance analysis of alternatives.

Additionally, the F.Y. '19 budget transitions our space investment by accelerating our efforts to move to a defendable space posture, which is critical as our adversaries continue to build capabilities to deny our use of space.

This budget foregoes the continued buy of the space-based infrared system satellites 7 and 8, reallocating that funding to rapidly develop the next-generation overhead persistent infrared system. This system will detect and report on current, emerging and anticipating threats and will be designed for survivability in a contested space environment. In addition, our space modernization efforts include development of steerable, high-power, anti-jam capability for our GPS satellites.

Furthermore, this budget invests in the adaptive engine transition program, which will deliver revolutionary next-generation propulsion systems, improving operational reliability, durability, mission flexibility and performance, while reducing weight, fuel consumption and cost of ownership.

And, as previously highlighted, this budget reallocates Joint STARS recap funding to begin the incremental transition to an advanced battle management system that better meets combatant commander needs in both contested and uncontested environments.

This approach will network current and new sensors from air, space, land and sea, and fuse the information to create a more comprehensive battle management picture.

Finally, to ensure we continue to deliver safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent for the American people, this request funds development of the B-52 engine replacement, and continues development of a long-range standoff missile, and the ground-based strategic deterrent.

These increased RDT&E investments prioritize programs that are effective in countering long-term competition with China and Russia, and they build on the progress of the F.Y. '18 budget.

Now, let's take a look at the F.Y. '19 procurement appropriation.

Next slide, please.

In F.Y. '19, our procurement accounts see stable growth as we continue buying the F-35, KC-46, and begin to pivot to a defendable, survivable space posture. The baseline aircraft procurement account grows by $800 million, as we continue F-35 procurement, while saving resources through cost efficiencies; procure additional C-130J variants, and start low-rate initial production of the combat rescue helicopter.

Specifically, the baseline budget procures 48 F-35As, 15 KC-46As, six MC-130Js, one HC-130J, and 10 combat rescue helicopters, while continuing modernization efforts for our fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft.

This budget also supports our goal of maintaining assured access to space by funding services for five additional Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles.

Within our munitions account, we remain challenged by the pace of current operations. To reverse previously declining inventory levels for preferred munitions, such as the Joint Direct-Attack Munition, Hellfire missiles, the Small-Diameter Bomb 1, and the Advanced Precision-Kill Weapon System, we have included funding through a combination of base and OCO to maximize current industry capacity.

Furthermore, this request funds the acceleration of the Distributed Common Ground Systems, or DCGS, upgrade. The increase in procurement for DCGS in 2019 will be used to upgrade the platform from a proprietary architecture to an open architecture.

Finally, the baseline budget funds a rapid acquisition of counter small, unmanned aerial systems to detect, track, assess and defeat opposing unmanned aerial systems.

Having highlighted the funding changes in our procurement accounts, let's take a quick look at our major procurement quantities in the F.Y. '19 budget.

Next slide, please.

Displayed on this slide are both base and OCO procurement quantities that were included in the F.Y. '19 appropriation, and the F.Y. '18 and F.Y. '19 president's budget request. The most significant aircraft quantity change is the increased buy of MQ9s in both base and OCO.

Finally, as previously discussed, we've placed an emphasis on replenishing our weapons inventory and, through base and OCO, are fully funding our preferred munitions to current industry capacity.

Now, let's turn our attention to the military construction, BRAC and family housing appropriations.

Next slide, please.

This slide highlights the major projects for active, Guard and Reserve.

In this F.Y. '19 P.B. request, the Air Force military construction budget continues our focus on new weapons system bed-downs, with 50 percent of our MILCON budget allocated to these new missions. We also continue to prioritize strengthening the nuclear enterprise; modernizing our research, development and test infrastructure; and supporting combatant commanders' highest construction priorities.

As we continue to take risk in current mission MILCON, the Air Force faces a $33 billion bow wave in deferred infrastructure maintenance.

Since that was the last of the base budget accounts, let's take a look at the overseas contingency operations portion of the '19 budget request.

Next slide, please.

Let me start by reiterating the point I made earlier, where the mix between base and OCO funding will change in a final F.Y. '19 P.B. request as a result of the recently passed Bipartisan Budget Agreement. We won't change the requirements from what you see here today, just how they're funded.

Our F.Y. '19 overseas contingency operations, or OCO, budget, prioritizes ongoing operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria; expands efforts to deter Russian aggression through the European Deterrence Initiative; and continues global counter-terrorism operations.

Our OCO request funds operational support for deployed personnel around the world, to include airmen at six enduring locations. This OCO budget funds 270,000 flying hours, as well as approximately $2.8 billion in weapons system sustainment. We also fund 10 MQ-9 combat lines through our OCO request.

Additionally the F.Y. '19 OCO budget funds the procurement of 21 MQ-9s to replace combat aircraft, and we fund the replacement of one HC-130J combat lost.

And as previously highlighted, we'll procure more than 28,000 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAM tail kits, just over 3,900 Small Diameter Bombs, that's SDB1s, to be precise, and 3,000 Hellfire missiles through this OCO request, to bring total preferred munitions buys to current industry capacity.

Additionally, this budget invests in the procurement of deployable command and control communication systems and special tactical command combat control equipment to provide satellite terminals, tactical operations and battlefield airmen operations kits.

Finally, in line with the National Defense Strategy's focus on building partnerships, our OCO budget includes funding for the European Deterrence Initiative to strengthen our alliances. Specifically, this request funds improvements to European airfield infrastructure, invests in war reserve materials, and funds the aircraft and munitions storage facilities in Europe.

Let me close with a few final thoughts before opening it up to your questions.

Next slide, please.

As Secretary Wilson has stated, the United States now faces a more competitive and dangerous international security environment than we have seen in generations. The Air Force must build a more lethal and ready force.

And our chief of staff, General Goldfein, has emphasized the Air Force must maintain total readiness to conduct America's wars and low-level conflicts while maintaining the ability to respond to aggression from near-peer adversaries. And that requires sustainable solutions.

In our F.Y. '19 budget request, we've focused on funding investments in readiness, people, nuclear deterrence, modernization, space superiority, multi-domain command and control, air superiority, light attack, and science and technology development.

This Air Force budget request of $156.3 billion builds on the progress made in 2018's request to support the readiness of the force, and investing key capabilities to increase lethality through cost-effective modernization, while continuing our commitment to a safe, secure and effective nuclear triad.

Air and space power are indispensable to every joint operation. This F.Y. '19 budget request, aligned with the recently approved National Defense Strategy in prioritizing long-term competition with China and Russia, sets the conditions to deliver a lethal, globally responsive United States Air Force.

However, to accomplish these objectives, we need Congress' help via delivery of sufficient, predictable, flexible and on-time appropriations. Congress' passage of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement last week is a tremendous step in that direction.

Together, we can build the Air Force our nation needs, with the right size and mix of agile capabilities to compete, deter and win in the complex international environment we face today and into the future.

Thank you very much.

We open the floor to your questions.

Q: Liza (inaudible) ..Aviation Week--Just going through your -- this package here, you talked about the integrated family of systems that you're working out for air superiority. It says you're going to be developing them over the next five years.

So that's -- that's pretty vague. So can you give us some more details about what that includes? And does that include, for instance, Penetrating Counter-Airs? And so where is the funding for all this? Well, where -- where should we look in the J books for funding?

GEN. PLETCHER: (inaudible). Yeah.

MS. CAROLYN GLEASON: Right. So the family of systems really refers to everything in the air superiority portfolio -- I'll say that first. And that includes legacy platforms, in addition to F-35, et cetera.

As far as next-generation air dominance, which is what Penetrating Counter-Air relates to. We have about $500 million in the budget this year to finish an analysis of alternatives. As far as Penetrating Counter-Air, that decision really hasn't been made.

We're still looking at that analysis, and we'll determine. We're not wed to any one platform, but will go forward based on the the results of AOA.

Q: So is it accurate to say that the decision has not yet been made on whether there will be a follow on next-generation air superiority plane?

GEN. PLETCHER: I think that's true. I think the analysis of alternatives is designed exactly to tell us what we need, what that family of systems looks like. It could be a platform. It could be something else. That's the intent of the analysis of alternatives.

Q: And a similar question on the battle management command and control: Is that going to include a battle management plane that would be similar to JSTARS, but perhaps without the radar?

GEN. PLETCHER: I think you have to look at it through the increments. So, in the early stages -- and we're going to keep Joint STARS through the mid-2020s. So we're not going to continue -- we're not going to get rid of that aircraft now.

But, if you look at it in the first increment, you're talking about fusing current capabilities; taking sensors that exist today, maybe putting them on additional aircraft like the MQ-9; fusing the different sensors from all the different areas that exist today -- ground, space, air -- and then trying to provide that information in a battle management command and control perspective not only to JSTARS, but also to the -- the E-3 AWACs.

As you look further down the line to Increment 2 or Increment 3, which are less -- you know, less specifically defined, because they're more in the future, it may or may not be a platform.

It's really about taking all the sensors that exist across -- across the domain -- fifth-generation aircraft today, unmanned aircraft, space, ground sensors -- pulling all that together, which includes sensors that aren't even necessarily developed today, when you talk about Increment 3, so the -- depends -- the answer to your question depends on whether you're talking about early on, or later.

Q: But, later, it could be (ph) --

GEN. PLETCHER: It could. It could.

GEN. PLETCHER: Right. But it's got to be survival. That's the key. The whole point of -- of the Joint STARS discussion is that, if we recap the current JSTARS, we will have an aircraft that still can't do any more than it can today; in fact, it would probably be able to do less, because it will be in a more competitive, contested environment.

So the idea is to pull all of these different sensors and, essentially, create more resiliency and agility in developing that picture for the warfighter.

Q: General Fletcher---on the B-21, last year, the Air Force was -- they didn't -- they were reluctant to talk about what the budget request was for. You know, you -- you caught some heat on the Hill for that. Can you tell us billion dollars is going to pay for?

GEN. PLETCHER: I don't think I can. I don't -- it's really just continuing the EMD contract. It's nothing different than what we were already doing. It's just advancing further down that path, that contract.

But it's not -- you know, to give you specifics about what we're going to buy -- it's just really for the EMD contract. Do you have anything you want to add to that?

(CROSSTALK)

MS. GLEASON: No, no. How I wish.

Q: All right. On the F-35, you pretty much maintained the Obama administration plan of 48-48, then up to 54 each. You didn't hit your magic 60 number.

GEN. PLETCHER: Right.

Q: Why was that, given all the money you've received from the agreement?

GEN. PLETCHER: Yeah, it's really about balance, and I'll let Carolyn talk a little bit more about this, but it's about balance. There's -- there certainly is a desire to still get to increased F-35s as quickly as we can. But it's -- as you just heard a minute ago, the amount of investment we have, the bow wave we're talking about for modernization is significant. It's probably a 10-year bow wave at least. And you can't solve it all at once.

So we want to continue to buy the F-35s. We also want to make sure that we keep a reasonable ramp, and I think Carolyn can talk more about that. But it's -- we can't -- if we do more F-35s now, it creates two challenges. One is whether -- you know, have to trade something else off, which is not something we want to do. And, secondly, you're going to have mod them later as well -- but you could, if Congress wants to give us more money then we could execute more F-35s.

MS. GLEASON: Yeah, our goal is just maintaining -- you know, it has been a funding decision in the past. You know, if we had more money we'd buy more aircraft.

Q: (OFF-MIKE)

MS. GLEASON: But you do -- but you do get to the point where you still have to maintain a manageable ramp.

GEN. PLETCHER: Right.

MS. GLEASON: I'm -- I'm buying 46 in F.Y. '18 unless Congress adds a couple of more -- to jump to 60 in one year is not manageable. I have to be able to -- be able to produce it, to have the basing decisions to bed it down, to have the pilots when the -- the aircraft comes off the line, the pilots to fly them and the maintainer to maintain them.

And so having all of that in an executable plan means ramping. You know, 12 aircraft in one year may not be manageable. We will work with the Hill to make sure that we get what we can execute, if they are so inclined to add additional aircraft.

Q: Thank you. (Inaudible)

EELD program, the DOD chart says, in the budget there's five vehicles for $2 billion. Your chart says $995 million, so I just wanted to get some clarification on what exactly is an EELD in the budget?

GEN. PLETCHER: We'll -- we'll have to get you the difference between the two. It is buying five vehicles, but it's really a matter of what they're incorporating in their -- their chart.

Q: So that's -- that's a big -- I mean, that's double what --

GEN. PLETCHER: Well -- but a lot of times as we find and we compare notes with -- with OSD and others, what you include in those lines matters, so if they're -- if they're just talking about the same appropriation we are we would come to the same number.

My guess is they're rolling something else in there. We can get you that answer.

Q: So there's definitely five? --

GEN. PLETCHER: Five, yes.

Q: (Inaudible)

Okay, and what does the passthrough funding -- really quickly if you wouldn't mind explaining that?

GEN. PLETCHER: Three -- three elements. It's DHP, medical equip -- or medical funding that is for the Air Force, SOCOM and NIP, national intelligence. So those three pieces together become our passthrough.

Q: Does that include NRO?

GEN. PLETCHER: It's -- as far as I can go is NIP.

Q: For facility -- facility sustainment, readiness and modernization

GEN. PLETCHER: Yes.

Q: -- you're getting a little bit of a bump because I think $700 million over the whole military, where are you prioritizing this at? How are you moving along in maybe saving money, maybe mothballing some facilities as well, is that a possibility?

GEN. PLETCHER: We are not mothballing facilities. We still have a significant bow wave, as you heard me say, $33 billion bow wave. And, frankly, what this -- there's goodness in the overall budget across the FYDP because when we get to 80 percent in sustainment in '19, we also continue to increase our R&M funding beyond '19.

But we did not get to $33 billion bow wave overnight and it's going take a time to buy that down. It is not a matter of mothballing facilities though. We are using what we have and we're basically maintaining those that we have available by spending money to the highest priority needs.

What you'll find on that -- and you heard it on the MILCON -- is we're essentially just doing MILCON for new mission, very low current mission and we're doing a lot of sustainment funding on the FSRM side.

Together, that means that we're essentially trying to take care of the worst facilities first.

Q: You're -- you're looking at more of worst than ones that are more mission critical or is it --

GEN. PLETCHER: Well, both. Because we talk about new mission, right? We've got -- we've got 15 MILCON projects just for the F-35 bed down itself. But when you talk about bed down new weapons, as Carolyn was talking about phasing things, you're going to have to make sure those -- those particular projects are funded.

And at the same time, you've got to make sure the facilities you have are sustainable and -- and can be operated out of, so you are kind of focused on kind of the worst first, to some degree, on some of your efforts.

STAFF: In the back?

Q: Hi, Roxanne with (Inaudible)

Can you give us examples of artificial-intelligence programs or research programs and -- and sort of what are you doing to with those-- And what money (inaudible)?

GEN. PLETCHER: Yeah, I'll have to -- we'll have to take that one for the record, I don't have the details on -- on any of the specific programs associated with it.

STAFF: Also in the back?

Q: Steve Losey, Air Force Times.

Forgive me, but, sir, did you say earlier that there was going to be some increased -- increased retention bonuses for pilots or others, or were you referring to the increases that happened last year?

GEN. PLETCHER: Yeah, what I said was we've continued the ones we started in F.Y. '18, the targeted retention bonuses.

Q: Will there be -- can -- on -- on the 4,700 increase, can you clarify, you know, is there any breakdown on how many might be ISR, how many might be RPA, how many might be increased pilots?

GEN. PLETCHER: We can give you that breakout. It's -- it's a combination of those three that I highlighted, which is ISR, cyber and RPA. And then there's also just kind of filling the gaps. As you've heard our secretary talk about, with our current mission sets alone, there was a -- you know -- last year you heard us talk about needing to get to 350,000 people.

We don't know what the right number is today because of -- as you roll out the National Defense Strategy, everything needs to be re-looked at. What is the real requirement going to be? So we continue to move that direction.

In fact, by the end of the FYDP, we looked at getting to 338,800 on active side. Part of that is just filling gaps. As you look at the manpower requirements at every squadron across the Air Force, they're funded at about 92 percent.

So part of that 4,000 increase is to fill some of those gaps and then part of it is -- is just what we talked about, increases to cyber, increases to ISR, increases to RPA. We were able to fix maintenance last year, now we just need to experience them. So we'll -- but we'll get you those specific breakouts.

STAFF: We have time for two more questions.

Let's go over here.

Q: Thanks, hi. Rachel Harris (ph) with Inside The Air Force.

Looking at the MQ-9 procurement numbers, I -- I saw somewhere that the OCO numbers are to replenish lost aircraft. But there's another (inaudible) in the base budget.

Are you sending up new MQ-9 combat lines or will that be OCO aircraft continued --

GEN. PLETCHER: Yes. No, great question. We are not sending up any new combat lines. This is a combination of replacing those that we lost in combat, as well as those that have flown beyond their projected service lives. So we expect them -- basically OSD only allowed us to do some projections for OCO replacements on the MQ-9 line.

But it's really just to replace those that are either already lost or we project losing.

STAFF: Final one?

Q: Do I get a follow up, or no?

STAFF: Sure.

Q: If I could just piggy-back on those ADMS questions. You're talking about increments, do you have an idea of timelines for how long each of those increments are going to last?

GEN. PLETCHER: I don't have details on that. I know that it's -- I mean if you -- you want to get there as quickly as you can, but part of this is what -- what's in the -- what's in the possibility in terms of development. The key thing that we want to make sure we don't lose sight of is we've got to continue to deliver this -- this capability to the joint warfighter. And we're confident we can, both with what we have today and both -- and then with transitioning to those new capabilities as they come online.

STAFF: Last question.

Q: Yeah, John Tirpack (ph) with Air Force Magazine.

Back on the air superiority family of systems, can you give us a little more detail about what's in there besides the AOA? Does that include air-to-air missiles, for example, arsenal planes, unmanned aerial systems?

GEN. PLETCHER: Yeah, I think you're, kind of, asking the question to the answer that's not determined yet. That's what the analysis of alternatives is supposed to determine: What exactly will be included in that family of systems? What is it -- what is it that we're going to need for the next generation air dominance capability?

It could be any of those or it could be all of those. And I think we have to wait until that's complete.

Q: Is there any money in here anywhere for MQ-9 follow-on, and survivable follow-on?

GEN. PLETCHER: Not that I'm aware of.

Are you aware of anything?

MS. GLEASON: No. We'll get you the answer (inaudible).

STAFF: Ladies and gentlemen, that's all the time we have for today.

As a -- as an announcement, the secretary will be hosting a press availability tomorrow afternoon, 3:00 pm, down in the Air Force PA space. She'll be talking about the Air Force budget. So if we didn't -- weren't able to get to your questions today, please join us tomorrow.

http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1439880/



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list


 

Search