USAF Budget Request Both Upbeat and Dour

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The U.S. Air Force is cutting down its buy of MQ-9A Reaper UAV in its fiscal 2014 budget request, to 12 from twice that slated for this fiscal year, but the armed service is maintaining the same level of new F-35A Joint Strike Fighters (19) and largely sustaining procurement of C-130 while increasing most space-related hardware purchases and missiles and bombs for the year starting Oct. 1.

Still, while the budget request, released today, holds relatively good news for near-term acquisition, the service warns of dire effects to operations, maintenance and, in particular, future readiness, as the full scope of the 2011 Budget Control Act and its recently implemented sequestration budget rescissions becomes clear.

"The FY13 sequestration jeopardizes [the] FY14 budget request," claims a part of the official USAF presentation, as the latest budget request—which will be amended and finally approved by Congress before heading to the president for enactment—does not address massive changes triggered last month during sequestration’s effects. Those effects "will cause [a] catastrophic impact to readiness with [a] bow wave of mission requirements into FY14."

Nor does the request fit inside the budget act’s topline restriction for 2014, meaning if that law is not changed by the end of September, then another round of automatic, widespread sequestration cuts will take effect staring the in October.

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