How the Air Force Can Save $30 Billion

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  • The U.S. Air Force plans to cut $30 billion in the next five years.
  • Retiring all of the aircraft included in this analysis would save a total of $29.7 billion.
  • Retirements must occur across an entire fleet of aircraft for maximum savings.
General Goldfein speaking at a podium
Photo by: Staff Sgt. Chad Trujillo
Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein recently announced that the Air Force plans to reallocate $30 billion in its budget over the next five years to invest in the capabilities it needs to implement the National Defense Strategy. The Air Force has divided these investments into four categories: Connecting the Joint Force ($9 billion); Offensive and Defensive Space ($9 billion); Generating Combat Power ($9 billion); and Logistics Under Attack ($3 billion).

General Goldfein noted in his comments that the $30 billion in investments will not come from new funding in the Air Force’s budget. The Air Force’s working assumption is that the budget will remain relatively flat in the future, and these new investments must be funded by making cuts to existing plans and programs. To identify what can be cut, General Goldfein went on to say that the Air Force “took a look at every legacy program we have and asked the question: does this contribute significantly to the 2030-2038 timeframe?” He went on to add that, “if the answer to that was no, we looked at can we accelerate its retirement in order to free the money up to buy the digital architecture.”1

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This paper examines the combination of cuts in legacy force structure that could generate $30 billion in savings over the next five years. It builds on the data and analysis in CSIS’s recent study entitled The Air Force of the Future: A Comparison of Alternative Force Structures.2 It is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of all potential cuts to legacy force structure, nor does this analysis recommend what cuts the Air Force should make. Rather, it estimates the savings that could result from the wholesale elimination of certain aircraft types that are potential targets for cuts. Aerospace

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