Lawmakers are expected to pass a CR before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 to keep the government running as the budget impasse in Washington, D.C. drags on. Defense officials and analysts are concerned that Congress will continue to kick the can down the road and use continuing resolutions to fund the Pentagon for the remainder of fiscal year 2016.This isn't going to work.
Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, warned about the consequences of a year-long CR.
“The way that production goes … we’re limited to what we could do the year before,” he said at an Air Force Association breakfast Sept. 24. “If we start trying to buy more [than we did in fiscal year 2015] we can’t, we’re capped. So that’s the situation that we find ourselves in on those acquisition programs where we’re requiring new assets.”
The Air Force is planning on issuing two low-rate initial production awards for 19 new tankers next year. The Defense Department signed a $4.9 billion contract with Boeing for a fleet of KC-46s. For fiscal year 2016, the Pentagon is planning on purchasing 57 F-35s from Lockheed Martin, up from 38 in fiscal year 2015. Bunch said a CR would hit those programs hard and potentially force the Defense Department to break contracts with industry.
“If we get a year-long continuing resolution it will impact F-35 production, it will impact KC-46 production. And there is a chance that we may have to go in and open up some contracts,” he said. “I don’t think any of us believe we want to go in and do [that] right now.”
To avoid going down that road, the Defense Department might ask lawmakers to waive CR restrictions on the KC-46, Bunch said.
“Right now we haven’t done that because we’re hoping it’s a short-term continuing resolution. But it will probably be one of the ones that we go back in and look for a waiver to” if there is an extended CR, he said.
He also raised the possibility that a waiver will be requested for the F-35.
First the Army and Navy are going to be fighting this because they have programs that need funding too. Additionally a waiver will mean that the Air Force is cheating on the pain that the rest of the services are feeling.
Lastly it will bust the budget process because the Dems will say that any waiver for the F-35/KC-46 will have to be matched in a welfare program.
The death spiral is here and the Air Force is trying to squirm away from reality.
Sidenote: Stick a fork in the Next Generation Bomber. Its delayed at least a year...and probably for much longer. The AF is ALL IN on the F-35.