The Department of the Air Force released its Fiscal Year 2022 budget proposal, May 28, focusing on investing in people and capability, building the future force and delivering joint lethality and effectiveness.
The Department’s $173.7 billion request includes the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force budgets. The Air Force’s budget of $156.3 billion is a 2.3% increase and the Space Force’s budget of $17.4 billion is a 13.1% increase from FY 2021.
“This budget starts us on the path necessary to organize, train, and equip the Air and Space Forces to deter and, if necessary, defeat the challenges we anticipate in 2030 and beyond,” said Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth. “It not only funds the capabilities required today, but also where the Department of the Air Force needs to make trade-offs to invest in the capabilities required for future competition.”
Key modernization programs funded in the budget proposal includes the: Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, the replacement for the aging Minuteman III; Next-Generation Air Dominance, the Air Force’s future air superiority capability; Advanced Battle Management System, the Department’s contribution to Joint All Domain Command and Control; and space-based capabilities such as the Next-Gen Overhead Persistent Infrared missile warning system.
Roth said the spending plan, in addition to capability-focused modernization, also advances the Department’s commitment to empowering Airmen and Guardians, connecting the Joint Force, and expanding partnerships.
Operation and Maintenance (O&M) is the largest portion of the request, accounting for 38% or $66.6 billion. O&M dollars go directly toward funding day to day operations and are critical to sustaining readiness. The O&M request also continues to prioritize investment in people, funding an additional $542 million to include a 2.7% civilian pay raise.
The budget also takes action to address the difficult challenges of sexual assault, suicide, and disparate treatment of Airmen and Guardians to build resiliency. Funding is increased by $7.7 million to develop prevention programs within the DAF focused on the prevention of readiness-detracting behaviors including sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and self-harm. Additionally, $6 million is added for diversity and inclusion initiatives to include new training and recruiting scholarships.
The Department’s Military Personnel (MILPERS) request of $38.4 billion represents $942M growth from FY21. The FY22 request increases the DAF’s End Strength by 3,400 personnel over the FY21 enacted End Strength. MILPERS funding includes a 2.7% military pay raise, a 3.8% increase to the Basic Allowance for Housing, and a 2.3% increase to the Basic Allowance for Subsistence. Additionally, the Space Force grows by 1,966 to 8,400 Guardians resulting from mission transfers from the Air Force, Army, and Navy.
The Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) FY 2022 budget has an increase of $3 billion to support the Department of Defense’s commitment to modernize key capabilities. A large portion of the funding focuses on modernizing the nuclear enterprise.
Nuclear command, control and communications are the central system of nuclear deterrence; with oversight of two-thirds of the nuclear triad, the budget adds $71 million. This increase will advance security and provide resilient communication pathways to align nuclear forces with the National Command authority under all conditions and phases of conflicts.
The RDT&E budget aims to establish the future ground-based strategic deterrent and replace the current Minuteman III missile systems. The added $1.1 billion includes funding for engineering, manufacturing, and development activities for the GBSD and funding for further long-range stand-off weapon development.
Other significant RDT&E funding areas include further growth for the B-21 Raider, B-52 and F-35 programs. The budget incorporates funding that minimizes climate risk, upgrades to aircraft fuel and assesses alternative fuel options.
In order to focus resources to these and other modernization efforts, the budget also includes proposals to right size aging, costly, and less-than-capable legacy systems by retiring 48 F-15C/D, 47 F-16 C/D, 42 A-10, 20 RQ-4 Block 30, 18 KC-135, 14 KC-10, 13 C-130H, and four E-8 aircraft.
The Space Force’s RDT&E budget increases to a total request of $11.3 billion, which is a $725 million increase compared to FY21. In addition to growth in classified programs, the proposal funds the Next-Gen Overhead Persistent Infrared missile warning system with an additional $132 million. This system creates a resilient network when combined with the geosynchronous satellites and associated ground systems to increase missile warning and defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence.
The FY 2022 Procurement budget is $25.6 billion, with the Air Force’s portion representing $22.9 billion.
The Air Force seeks to procure advanced weapon systems like the hypersonic Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, and increasing the budget for the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff missile to provide quantities of advanced weaponry needed to deter future conflicts. The Air Force also requests the purchase of F-35, KC-46 Pegasus, F-15EX Eagle II and MC-130J aircraft to ensure near-term readiness while advancing fifth-generation aircraft to outpace competitors.
The Space Force’s procurement budget will grow by $456 million to procure National Security Space Launch Vehicles which provide assured access to space for the nation’s warfighting and intelligence satellites. It also procures GPS III Follow-on Space Vehicles that provide new capabilities, including a spot beam that offers an anti-jam improvement 100 times greater than current encrypted military code.
The Military Construction (MILCON) and Family Housing portion of the budget increases by $1.1 billion for FY22. MILCON focuses on accelerating installation readiness, resilience, modernization and continued Planning and Design funds to reinforce program stability and consistency. The FY22 proposal would fund 56 major construction projects, including aircraft bed-downs across six Air Force bases. It adds $105 million to military family housing projects to continue focusing on the health and safety of Department of the Air Force members and families.
“This budget furthers our ability to operate jointly across all domains, continues to develop the Space Force, recapitalizes elements of nuclear deterrence, and accelerates modernization,” Roth said. “All with the focus of providing the Nation with an unequivocal advantage through airpower and space power.”
The DAF’s FY22 budget proposal now goes to Congress for its consideration. Under the typical schedule, the budget must be approved and signed into law by the president by Oct. 1, 2021, when the new fiscal year begins.