The Air Force is requesting roughly 9.5 percent more funding for fiscal year 2016 than what was enacted in FY ’15 while the service also plans on competing three launches.

The Air Force requested $167.3 billion for FY ’16, roughly $14.5 billion more than appropriated last year, according to budget documents released Monday. This includes $122.2 billion for the “blue total obligation authority (TOA)” that covers procurement, operations and maintenance (O&M), and research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E), among others. It also includes $10.7 billion for war funding, formally known as overseas contingency operations (OCO), and $34.5 billion for non-blue TOA, which an Air Force spokeswoman said are funds earmarked for certain programs like health that can’t be used on other Air Force priorities.

ULA's Atlas V rocket is used in Air Force EELV missions. Photo: ULA.
ULA’s Atlas V rocket is used in Air Force EELV missions. Photo: ULA.

The Air Force requests enough funding for 16 F-35As this year than enacted in FY ’15. The service wants to buy 1,763 of the F-35 conventional variants and has an initial operational capability (IOC) goal of August 2016. The Air Force also requested funding for five additional KC-46A aerial refueling tankers from the seven enacted last fiscal year.

The Air Force wants funding for five Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) missions this year, the same as FY ’15. Three of those five launches would be competed, Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget Maj. Gen. James Martin said Monday during a briefing with reporters.

The service also wants one Global Positioning System (GPS) III satellite, also the same as in
FY ’15. EELV is the national security space launch program that the Defense Department uses to launch military and intelligence community (IC) satellites. GPS III is the Air Force’s next-generation position, navigation and timing (PNT) satellite.

Boeing [BA] is slated to be a big winner in the Air Force’s budget request as the service wants big increases in funding for two weapons the company develops. The Air Force requests enough funding for an 886 percent increase in the number of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles it procures. The Air Force wants 3,756 Hellfires, 3,375 more than enacted last year.

Hellfire missiles are short-range, laser- or radar-guided, air-to-ground missiles designed to defeat tanks and other individual targets, according to Hellfire developer Boeing.  Lockheed Martin [LMT] is the other main contractor involved in Hellfire.The Hellfire is deployed from the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1B Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), both manufactured by General Atomics.

The Air Force wants five more additional MQ-9A Reapers from the 24 enacted last year. It also wants enough funding for 14 C-130Js, up from the seven procured last year. C-130Js are cargo jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

The Air Force also wants enough funding for a 1,249 percent increase in the number of GBU-39B Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) it can procure. The service wants 1,942 SDBs, 1,798 more than the 144 enacted in FY ’15. The SDB is 250-pound class, GPS-guided air-to-surface munition. The Air Force also wants funding for a 46 percent boost in the number of Boeing’s Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) that it can procure. The service wants 6,341 JDAMs, 2,008 more than the 4,333 enacted in FY ’15.

The Air Force continues its controversial effort to retire the A-10. The service said it will retire 164 Warthogs in FY ’16, though the close air support aircraft will remain operational and available for deployment until 2019. Retiring the A-10 is politically unpopular on Capitol Hill as lawmakers, led by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee (SASC), fought off the Air Force’s attempt last year to retire the Warthog.

The service wants to ramp up funding for its next-generation bomber program known as the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB). The Air Force requests $1.2 billion for LRSB research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E), 36 percent more than the $914 million enacted last year.  The Air Force also request $51 million in additional funding for the GPS III-Operational Control Segment (OCX), for a total of $350 million. GPS III OCX prime contractor Raytheon [RTN] believes it has “turned the corner” on the ground segment-portion program, which has struggled with development difficulties (Defense Daily, Feb. 2).

FY ’15 features a first from the Air Force: the debut of a space procurement budget line under the procurement TOA umbrella. Space procurement was previously bundled with missile procurement. The service requests $2.6 billion for space procurement in FY ’15. Other budget items under procurement along with space and missiles are ammunition, aircraft, other procurement and “non-blue” procurement.