Friday, May 8, 2009

Tough Day for the USAF

Tough Day for the USAF: "

The United States Air Force is putting on a brave face. Senior budgeters are proclaiming the Fiscal 2010 budget a ‘rebalancing.’ But, what is starkly evident in this request is the lack of programs and initiatives.

Among them is a tiny pot of money for the Joint Dual-Role Air Dominance Missile (JDRADM), envisioned to replace both the Amraam and the Harm/Aargm. There are no funds for the Next-Generation Unmanned Aerial System (NG-UAS), a Predator/Reaper follow-on and there is only a little money ($5 million) for the analysis of alternatives for an Air Force One replacement. The Air Force also got stiffed on a new gunship - funding isn’t included in the budget for one. And, the service is still smarting from the proposed end to F-22 production in Georgia and C-17 production in California.

Of note are some adds. The service will buy two Army H-60M helicopters as replacements for earlier losses in HH-60G Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopters. During the May 7 DOD budget briefing, Vice Adm. Stephen Stanley, director of force structure and resources for the Joint Staff, said that perhaps the Bell/Boeing V-22 could handle some future CSAR requirements. That platform was quickly dashed from an earlier Pave Hawk replacement competition after the service said it was looking for a lower cost solution.

One item that the service may consider a brief success: the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (Jassm) wasn’t killed despite entering its third year of performance and reliability issues. Production of the program has been on hold pending the outcome of flight acceptance tests of the most current lot production. Stanley, during the briefing, justified not terminating the program by simply stating ‘We need this,’ and there is a ‘viable way ahead.

Also of note is the $439 millon set aside in Fiscal 2010 for a USAF tanker competition and downselect in the middle of next year.

Here are some USAF aircraft numbers:

F-22 - 0

C-17 - 0

JSF - 10

Reaper - 24

Global Hawk - 5

Predator - 0 (funds went to Reaper)

MC-12 - 0 (program completed)

CV-22 - 5

MC-130J - 4

HC-130J - 5

C-130J - 3

C-27J - 8 (program management transferred from US Army)

C-37A - 1

C-40 - 3

In the space world, the termination of TSAT means procurement of AEHF 4 and advance funding for WGS 7. Also, the service is buying another Sbirs GEO satellite and fourth Sbirs HEO payload. Five EELVs are included in the budget.

(Via Ares.)

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