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U.S. Air Force Budget Dilemma: Personnel vs. Modernization

Recorded on May 21, 2007

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

The U.S. Air Force is rapidly reducing its endstrength in part to fund urgent modernization programs.  The increasingly constrained Air Force budget appears to be at war with itself as the service seeks to afford more immediate priorities at the expense of long-term investments.  The Air Force has 1,300 few planes but is flying them at the same rate as 13 years ago, causing the fleet to age more rapidly.  As a result, readiness of air units has declined by 20 percent since 2001.

Will the Air Force have to sacrifice personnel in lieu of aircraft modernization to meet its budget demands?  What is the future of aircraft modernization in light of the overwhelming requirements of current operations, to include funding diverted to relieve the strain on the U.S. Army?  As America's ground forces are projected to increase, what implications will this have on Air Force endstrength and ongoing airlift demands?  How will the Air Force pay all of its bills without increasing risk to an unacceptable level?