Air Force To Invest In New Technology, Retention
The U.S. Air Force detailed plans to address its aircrew shortage and modernize its fleet in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget request released on Monday. “There is a bow wave of modernization over the next 10 years,” said Heather Wilson, secretary of the Air Force, in a statement posted online. “Bombers, fighters, tankers, satellites, helicopters and our nuclear deterrent – they are all going to be modernized,” she said. The budget requests funding for the purchase of 48 F-35A Lightning II fighters, 15 KC-46 Pegasus tankers and continued development of the B-21 Raider bomber. The budget also supports the selection of the T-X advanced trainer aircraft and the replacement of the UH-1N helicopter.
The budget request also seeks funding to address the aircrew shortage. The Air Force wants to boost pipeline capacity, expand pilot training, continue incentive pay and bonuses and fund flying hours. The B-21 bomber, now in development at Northrop Grumman, is expected to enter service in the mid-2020s. It will replace the current B-1 and B-2 bomber fleets, which will be “incrementally retired,” Wilson said, as the B-21s take flight. “We have to accelerate programs and get good value for every dollar we spend,” Wilson said. “We are driving forward with the next generation of technology focused on families of systems that connect and communicate across all domains: air, land, sea, space, cyber and subsurface.”