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Deborah Lee James: Odds of Air Force FY 2016 Funding Increase ‘Less Than 50-50’

Deborah Lee James
Deborah Lee James

Both the top civilian leader and lead uniformed military official at the U.S. Air Force believe Congress will not increase its proposed fiscal year 2016 budget for the branch, Defense News reported Sunday.

Aaron Mehta writes that Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh have expressed concerns about the situation as several military programs could be cut or retired.

“The conversations that I have had in Congress, with both congressmen, senators and staff members, overwhelmingly suggests that it’s less than a 50-50 chance,” said James.

Gen. Mark Welsh
Gen. Mark Welsh

Mehta reports the Air Force is looking to manage the possibility of continued reduced budget levels by either retiring, cutting or postponing programs such as the adaptive engine program.

The Air Force could also reduce the amount of F-35A acquisitions and postpone the Combat Rescue Helicopter program to 2019.

“I’m sure the Air Force would prefer to keep all these things, but if that’s not tenable, this looks like things they really could do without and still project airpower globally,” commented Russell Rumbaugh, a senior associate at the Stimson Center.

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