The Air Force will not make the FAA’s 2020 deadline for ADS-B equipage and will likely ask for exceptions to the rule for some of its aircraft. According to Defense News, Lt. Gen. Mike Holmes, the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, told the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee last week that it doesn’t have the $4.4 billion it needs to equip every aircraft in its inventory. Navy, Army and other Pentagon-owned aircraft will add about $1.2 billion to that bill. Holmes blamed sequestration cuts for the funding shortfall and said that without some kind of waiver for unequipped aircraft, the 2020 deadline will result in increased expense and decreased efficiency for the Air Force as those aircraft avoid the controlled airspace that mandate the technology. “We’ll be able to move the airplanes where we need to go to serve the country, but with some delay and with some higher fuel costs if we have to drive around an area to get where we need to go,” Holmes said.
To make the most of the funding it does have, the Air Force is scrambling to install ADS-B in all its C-130s and C-17s because they’re the most likely to need FAA ATC services. He specifically mentioned the F-22 as a platform that won’t get the avionics upgrade in time. Subcommittee Chairman Randy Forbes, R-Va., told the hearing that the current budget for avionics upgrades is clearly inadequate. “I’m concerned that our military aircraft could be shut out of the airspace they need for transit and training,” he said.