With Congress flailing in its attempt to pass a budget and the prospect of a lengthy continuing resolution growing, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein on Wednesday outlined how bad that would be.
A year-long CR, funding the Air Force at fiscal 2019 levels, would cost the service the $11.8 billion increase called for in President Trump’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget, Goldfein said at a breakfast hosted by the Air Force Association in Washington.
“It’s truly damaging for all the services, and certainly the United States Air Force,” Goldfein said.
Even if a CR only lasts for six months, the effects would be significant, he said. The Air Force would lose $1.1 billion that would go to Boeing’s development and production of new F-15EX fighters, postponing their acquisition and driving up prices, according to a fact sheet Goldfein distributed. It would also force the Air Force to keep flying F-15Cs for longer than it expected, resulting in further cost increases due to the extensive maintenance needed to keep the aging fighters, plagued by structural health issues, in the air.
A six-month CR would also hit the Air Force’s effort to re-arm. It would reduce munitions procurement by 1,000 tailkits to convert unguided bombs into guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions, as well as cut 99 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and 665 Small Diameter Bomb II munitions.
The Army is anticipating "severe" impacts to its plans to modernize the force should Congress resort to a yearlong continuing resolution, which funds the service at last year's levels.
And that CR would cost the Air Force $188 million intended for improvements to almost one-third of its F-35 fleet.
But a year-long CR would be even worse, Goldfein said, hitting airmen directly and limiting the planned 3.1 percent pay raise for troops.
It would also scuttle the Air Force’s plans to grow its total force end strength by 4,400, he said, which would hurt its efforts to grow vital — and undermanned — career fields such as operations, maintenance, space, cyber, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Efforts to fix the pilot shortfall would take a hit, cutting $123 million from undergraduate flight training, Goldfein said. This would mean contractor instructor pilots would be reduced, a new maintenance training center’s opening would be delayed, and trainer fleet maintenance would be delayed.
A CR for all of fiscal 2020 would also delay the procurement of the GPS IIIF space vehicle to replace a satellite that has now been orbiting for twice as long as it was designed, which would place the Air Force in a contract breach. It would withhold $466 million in facility sustainment, restoration and modernization funds, as well as Defense Department emergency funding, slowing the efforts to recover from natural disasters at Tyndall and Offutt Air Force bases.
In all, a six-month CR would delay the start of 26 new programs, 7 production increases, and eight military construction projects. A year-long resolution would prevent 88 new starts, 14 production increases and 41 military construction projects.
F-22 sensor upgrades would also be delayed if a budget is not passed, the Air Force said.
But as rocky as the 2020 budget process may be, Goldfein sees even darker days to come.
“If you look at the projections of funding in the years ahead, many believe that  may very well be the last really good year of funding," Goldfein said. “It may not be true. But it may go flat after that, or it may start coming down. And so, how do you achieve irreversible momentum if you have one good year left of reasonable resources before a potential downturn?”