Air Force to cut aircraft and personnel, will require advanced, multi-role avionics

AVIONICS INTELLIGENCE REPORT, 7 Feb. 2012. U.S. Air Force officials outlined—in a briefing and associated white paper, titled “Air Force Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets”—the organization’s fiscal 2013 budget submission. The submission identifies for elimination more than 280 aircraft over the next five years; included are 123 fighters (102 A‐10s and 21 older F‐16s), 133 mobility aircraft (27 C‐5As, 65 C‐130s, 20 KC‐135s, and 21 C‐27s), and 30 select intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems (18 RQ‐4 Block 30s, 11 RC‐26s, and one E‐8 damaged beyond repair). 

The Air Force officials’ strategy aligns with the U.S. Department of Defense’s “Defense Budget Priorities and Choices” report for 2013. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta previously presented the department’s budget priorities, which calls for the Air Force to make reductions in the Air Guard and Air Force Reserve, as well as to eliminate six tactical air squadrons. The request also recommends more base realignments and closures, although nothing specific has been announced.

The Air Force officials recognize that “multiple units and every state and territory will be affected by aircraft or manpower reductions.” In fact, the structure changes are likely to result in personnel reductions of 9,900 airmen.

Air Force officials, in planning to have a smaller force, are favoring the retention of multi‐role platforms over those with narrowly focused capabilities. They will also focus on common configurations, to maximize operational flexibility and minimize sustainment costs. Aerospace and defense officials and end users, perhaps more than ever, will be looking to industry for innovative and powerful avionics to fill multiple roles and deliver numerous capabilities.  

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