The Air Force, however, has no such trade space. Their top four programs — F-35, LRSB,KC-46, and the much smaller T-X trainer — dominate their spending on aircraft, and spending on aircraft dominates their total procurement budget. In fact, aircraft procurement nearly doubles from $12 billion in 2015 to $22 billion at its projected peak in 2023. There just isn’t another big investment portfolio the Air Force can sacrifice to fund its top priorities, the way the Navy is dialing down aircraft even as it dials up shipbuilding.Motley Fool had an article out a day or so ago that said the Lockheed Martin just crushed it during earning season and no one seems to care.
“If they were going to try to make trades within the Air Force budget, there are not a lot of acquisition programs outside the big three [F-35, LRSB, and KC-46] that they could make trades with,” Harrison said at the CSIS forum this morning. The Air Force could free up funds by cutting force structure — the number of units, planes, and personnel — even more than it’s already done, he said, but given congressional opposition to moves like retiring the A-10 “Warthog,” that seems unlikely.
MF is right. No one is impressed because the writing's on the wall and it's obvious that the F-35 numbers will be cut. There is NOTHING else left.
All the services are facing the worst of all possible worlds. They can't cut troops because ops tempo remains high. They can't clear the books to get the budget trainwreck under control because the cause of the wreck (F-35) keeps running into development delays.
This current generation of military leaders keep adding to the list of trouble for future leaders. The social experimentation is bad enough. Still having to sort the mess made in Afghanistan/Iraq and now Iran is migraine causing.
But in addition they're being left with a SEVERELY weakened US military and a budget headache that would make a sane man want to tapout.
The legacy of the military leadership over the past 15-20 years will be one of failure...and they will be cursed not only by historians/the public but also by the same people they're "mentoring" to be the next in charge.