AFA’s Legislative Accomplishments

1. A Strategic Space Force Report

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall signed off on the “Comprehensive Strategy for the Space Force” in August and the unclassified summary document was released to the public Oct. 13, answering a requirement set forth by Congress in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. AFA had pressed for precisely such a report as a means of ensuring a clear national strategy for the new service, with clearly defined objectives and plans to achieve those objectives. Learn more.

2. Increased F-35 Acquisition

The President’s Budget Request called for the acquisition of only 33 F-35As in 2022, down from 48 ordered in 2021. AFA assisted in the legislative efforts to increase the final amount to 44.

3. Retaining Block 20 F-22s

The President’s 2022 Budget Request sought to retire 33 Block 20 F-22s. AFA sought to retain those aircraft and modify them to a Block 30 standard. The final NDAA prevented the aircraft’s retirement but their modernization was not authorized.

4. Mitigated Pass-Through Funds

Some 20 percent of the Department of the Air Force’s budget—$39.2 billion in 2020 alone—“passes through” the military department to other government agencies. In 2022, AFA proposed the DOD commission an independent research organization to perform an analysis of the effect that the Pass-Through has on the DAF’s budget. The final FY’23 Omnibus Act states that the Secretary of Defense and Director of National Intelligence MAY conduct a study which discusses some of the points of contention in Pass-Through debate.

5. Training Ukraine’s Pilots and Ground Crew on American-made Aircraft

AFA supported legislation which would have authorized $100 million to provide training to familiarize Ukrainian pilots and ground crews with American aircraft such as the A-10, F-15, and F-16.  Section 1241 of the FY’23 NDAA accomplishes much the same objective by modifying section 1250 of the FY’16 NDAA.

Specifically, the FY’23 NDAA clarifies the training which is permitted under FY’16 law to include: “…manned and unmanned aerial capabilities, including tactical surveillance systems and fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, such as attack, strike, airlift and surveillance aircraft.” The bill goes on to specifically authorize “training” as part of security assistance and intelligence support to Ukraine.

Therefore, though the FY’23 NDAA uses different terminology than the original legislation, it clearly can be interpreted as authorizing the training of pilots and ground crew on American-made aircraft. In fact, the authorization appears to permit training on any “attack, strike, airlift and surveillance aircraft” including Russian-made aircraft.

The FY’23 NDAA goes even further to authorize the DOD to replenish “comparable [defense] stocks of other nations that provide weapons to Ukraine.” Therefore, this provision can also be interpreted to mean if the Poles were to provide their MiG-29s to Ukraine, the United States could provide “comparable” aircraft—possibly early model F-16s—to Poland.