For Immediate Release
May 7, 2009
AFA Urges Congress to Protect Essential Air Force Capabilities
Invest in Promising Programs, Focus on National Strategy
Arlington, VA – The Air Force Association (AFA) today urged Congress to reverse the deep cuts to vital Air Force systems in the 2010 Defense Budget to protect essential USAF capabilities. In its independent role, Congress must carefully consider the impact of these crucial decisions on core USAF functions as part of the overall national defense strategy.
The proposed FY10 Defense budget will have a significant impact on the defense industrial base as it recommends terminating or delaying nine key aerospace programs which are essential for the defense of our nation: The programs include: C-17 airlifter (terminate), F-22 fighter (terminate), Next Generation Bomber (delay), Combat Search and Rescue – X (terminate), Transformational Satellite program [TSAT] (terminate), Joint Air to Surface Missile - JASM (delay), procurement of the Airborne Laser (terminate), C-27 transport (cut the buy by over 50%), Presidential Helicopter (terminate).
"We are pleased to see support for the replacement tanker and reversing the planned drawdown of USAF personnel in the 2010 budget,” said Joe Sutter, AFA Chairman of the Board. “But the future is hard to predict, so we must maintain robust capabilities throughout the full spectrum of operations. The weapon systems purchased today will be in the inventory for three or more decades. Airpower – to include space power and the emerging opportunities inherent within cyber power – provides much of the asymmetric capability for the U.S."
"Procurement decisions should be driven by the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) based on the national security strategy,” said Mike Dunn, President/CEO of AFA. “Strategy considerations must be brought to the forefront since these decisions will be with us for decades, not just a few budget cycles."
AFA is deeply concerned that the cuts announced as part of the defense budget weaken core capabilities that are key elements of national defense, including what USAF airpower provides to the joint fight. The aging Air Force fleet, now on average a quarter-century old, is the oldest it has ever been. The nation still depends heavily on aircraft that are twice that age and first fielded during the Eisenhower administration. The U.S. must recapitalize older air and space systems.
These budget cuts come when many systems are well underway in research and development and even production, including the F-22 Raptor (in production); Airborne Laser (ABL), a key component of missile defense; the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) helicopter, and a planned long range strike platform.
Air Force Capabilities
Air Supremacy: AFA urges preserving the F-22 Raptor production line and sales of the F-22 to proven allies. These actions recognize the threats of a changing world and drive down costs per aircraft; strengthen defense capabilities within a national strategy; provide air dominance and deterrence; build coalition capability with key partners; preserve vital U.S. jobs and economic activity; and help preserve the U.S. air power edge for another generation.
The F-22 is America’s most capable aircraft, but terminating production now will leave us far short of the established military requirement. The F-22 and F-35 are designed as complementary systems and you have to have higher numbers of the F-22 to make the “high-low” force mix work as planned." Dunn said.
Combat Search & Rescue: A dedicated CSAR force is needed to extract downed pilots of all services, military personnel in danger of capture, and other endangered U.S. citizens from natural disasters to battlefields.
“Combat search and rescue capability is a commitment we make to our troops – a moral obligation. Personnel rescue is not an ad hoc mission. It is a core function of the Air Force and requires specialized training for crews, precise coordination with support aircraft, and dedicated equipment designed for the mission,” Sutter said.
Missile Defense: Airborne laser technology shows promise of being able to destroy an advancing missile with precision at the beginning of its trajectory, where the missile is both the slowest and the “hottest” … and where the debris will fall on the launching country.
“North Korea’s and Iran’s test of missile technology displays the need for continued investment in missile defense, including the airborne laser,” Sutter said. “This technology could revolutionize our defenses.”
Long Range Strike: Planning and investment in a future long range strike platform is essential to complement the Air Force’s 20 B-2 bombers and older fleet of B-52s and B-1Bs.
“Long range strike is a core competency of the Air Force and arguably the most important part of its mission, ensuring there is no sanctuary behind anti-aircraft defenses,” Dunn said. “Our bomber fleet is the smallest it has been since before World War II and certainly the oldest it has ever been.”
The AFA is a 501(C)(3), nonprofit organization promoting public understanding of aerospace power and the pivotal role it plays in the security of the nation. AFA has more than 200 chapters nationally and internationally representing 125,000 members. Visit AFA www.AFA.org.
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