Welsh Set to Unveil ‘Air Force 2023′ Strategy

Welsh Set to Unveil ‘Air Force 2023′ Strategy

U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III will soon release a new service strategy paper designed to pave the way for the next ten years and prepare for continued budget uncertainties, service officials explained.

The paper addresses the central predicament now facing all the services; namely planning programs, advancing a budget and determining developmental priorities with the lingering prospect of a $500 billion budget cut over the next decade.

Top Air Force Acquisition Executive William LaPlante is working to provide support and follow Welsh’s guidance regarding what the service is calling “Air Force 2023.” He said in an interview with Military​.com that the Air Force chief is focused on what decisions the service can make in the near term to protect future programs and readiness.

The Air Force has set the Long Range Strike Bomber, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and KC-46 Tanker Aircraft as its top modernization priorities. Service officials are drafting contingency plans to protect these programs in the next major planning cycle, the 2015 to 2019 Program Objective Memorandum (POM) five year budget plan.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request reflects these priorities for the Air Force: $8.4 billion is requested for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, $1.5 billion for the KC-46 Tanker and about $400 million is requested for LRS-B development, slated to be operational sometime in the 2020’s.

“There are multiple scenarios that are being planned. Anybody who has been involved in something like this recognizes the difficulty of the funding — so it is that back and forth between strategy and the math that is going on. Given the various planning scenarios, there are very few things that have not been put on the table,” LaPlante added.

Simply protect those top three priorities will not be easy should the Air Force want to also continue to develop the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and cyber defenses that service leaders have said remain vital to the Air Force’s future.

Along these lines, the budget request includes $893 million for the Global Hawk surveillance plane, $506 million for the MQ-9 Reaper and $662 million for the Predator.

Added to the equation are keeping legacy platforms such as the C-5 and B-52 viable. Air Force leaders have said the budget environment will force them to delay modernization programs putting further pressure on aircraft that have been operating for, in some cases, more than four decades.

The service is also hoping to finalize a new multi-year procurement deal for its C-130J aircraft, something more difficult to do in an unclear budget environment, LaPlante explained. The 2014 budget request includes $2 billion for the C-130J program.

LaPlante raised the much discussed Anti-Access/Area-Denial or A2/AD issue when discussing what sort of threats the Air Force must prepare for over the next decade. He echoed concerns that the service will face future combat environments that will be far more complex, high-tech and challenging compared with today’s air combat environment.

“We have to always be reminding ourselves of the trades between ISR capabilities that will be robust in an A2/AD environment versus ones that are useful in an environment that is more permissive,” he said.

Air Force acquisition heads remain focused on investing on system that can operate with greater electromagnetic, cyber, space, range and distance challenges.

“A basic assumption is we have to be prepared to deal with more highly contested scenarios. This causes a different level of thinking and causes you to think about systems differently. From an acquisition perspective, looking at a more contested environment, you always have to ask yourself – are we building systems that are more resilient?” Laplante asked.

Resiliency can refer to the technologies and systems themselves and also extend to the concept of operations regarding how something is used in battle, LaPlante added.

Resilient systems can encompass a range of developmental areas, including the development of software systems, cyber-hardened, next-generation “anti-jamming” or electromagnetic technologies for unmanned systems and aircraft.

One area of exploration along these lines falls under what LaPlante called Precision, Navigation and Timing –technologies designed to use timing and geo-location to perform their misson. PNT technologies can provide systems and platforms with an ability to operate in bad weather or challenged conditions, thus making them more resilient. Some of these technologies can include terrain mapping, GPS and inertial navigation, among other things.

Alongside resilience for systems in light of fast-changing threats, LaPlante also emphasized “adaptability” as a key part of this equation.
“We have to make ourselves adaptable to dealing with this uncertain environment – that’s adaptable within individual programs and that’s adaptable to various funding scenarios,” LaPlante added.

LaPlante previously worked on a 2010 Defense Science Board study, “Enhancing Adaptability of U.S. Military Forces,” which, among other things, emphasized the need for forces to adapt to fast-changing circumstances and what the report cites as “degraded operations.”

“Institutionalize the use of realistic exercises and red/blue teaming to prepare for uncertain conditions, beginning with two areas of critical importance to nearly all aspects of war-fighting – cyber and space,” the report states.

Considering the Air Force’s resiliency and adaptability strategies, one analyst said Air Force acquisition is wise to focus on low observable systems combined with a faster networking of sensors.

“Faster networking and better integration of sensors, shooters, and weapons is needed to break the kill chain faster. On top of that, aircraft need to be more survivable and one of the ways you achieve that is through low observability and a robust [electronic warfare] capability,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group, a Virginia-based consultancy.

When asked about the need for better anti-jam capabilities, Aboulafia questioned the wisdom of a reported Air Force decision to cancel the EB-52, a classic large B-52 aircraft configured with jamming pods and electromagnetic warfare equipment.

He did praise the Air Force’s currently ongoing Long-Range Strike Bomber program, saying he hoped the platform would have low observability and an organic “jamming” or EW capability.

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I first read this headline as the nation of Wales unveiling it’s AF strategy ;-)

The budget is mostly people: active duty, reserve forces, and civilian employees. Any grandiose plan that doesn’t address these costs (50% of DOD’s budget) is whistling past the graveyard. Sequestration will likely cost DOD $52 billion in FY 14 alone (which in my opinion is a good start at discouraging the “world police force” role that we continue to play). Quit talking POM and address the elephant in the room, general.

Truncate F 35 and buy F 15SE and the billions in savings will offset sequestration

Good point. Sequestration isn’t going anywhere.

Years ago our Congress supported President Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars Program. Now I believe he is looking down and shaking his head in disgust at the spectacle of military sequester by certain factions within his Grand Old Party.

The sequester was Barry’s idea.

“2023”! Our Govt does not even know what strategy is let alone what it is going to do tomorrow. We have not had a budget for years. By 2023 we will be owned by the PRC and speaking chinese.

and implemented by the Tea party which has teamed up with the radical left to destroy the US military

The USAF could shut down a few outdated overseas bases by years’ end that would pay half the bill. It has slashed its aircraft inventory in half the past decade but closed no airbases. There is a detailed list at G2mil

“Added to the equation are keeping legacy platforms such as the C-5 and B-52 viable.”

Obama’s new SECDEF has already said that he’s committed to getting the B-52 and the B-1B out of the Air Force inventory as soon as he can.

Those platforms can deliver nukes. Obama and Hagel do not like nukes, and they want as little U.S. nuclear capability as possible. (Hagel is a member of the Global Zero group which wants to do away with them entirely.)

This is what they repeatedly said they were going to do. Don’t be shocked when they actually do it.

Anyone know whether or not the F-35’s that are currently in service (?) can be used in a strike against Syria?


The –22’s have ground attack now. Why bother with the –35s which aren’t quite yet going into production.

Some F-22As of the later Blocks are capable of limited ground attack. Primarily either eight 250lb SBDs or two 1000lb JDAMs carried internally. The F-22A cannot carry the wide variety of munitions the Block 50/52 F-16, F-15E, and F-35 can carry.

Why would we want to strike Syria? The rebels hate us just as much if not more than the Syrian government.

“Anyone know whether or not the F-35’s that are currently in service (?) can be used in a strike against Syria?”

The question mark says all that need be said.

The F-35s that have been delivered to the services are not combat capable and they aren’t going to be even close to that for another three to five years.

In fact, some of the low-block-number LRIP jets may never be able to go to war. They’ll be stateside peacetime trainers at best. There are just too many yet to be devised patches that have to be slipstreamed in and it will cost too much to do the retrofit. Structural weaknesses. Thermal problems. Aeroelastic flutter issues. The perennially failing magic helmet. All in an overweight, overcrowded, horribly complicated design where they’re stripping out stuff like safety systems just to make the scale read barely OK.

As for whether the ultimately delivered block-whatever later-production jets will be able to fight, that’s entirely a question of who you propose to fight. Want to fight someone with triple-digit SAMs and Flankers? Uh, maybe not ever.

The early LRIPs will indeed never go to war. Too many changes needed, they’d basically have to rebuild the entire craft, and replace the bulk of components making it more expensive than just new-building.

Aside from that issue, I think it’s becoming clearer as time goes on that relying upon the F-35 against state of the art fighters is a losing proposition. The kinematics are no better than the legacy hornets (Not supers), and you get to choose between mediocre stealth and weak payload, or no stealth and okay payload. It’s stealth is it’s only semi-redeeming feature, and it isn’t stealthy enough to overcome it’s otherwise bland performance and staggering cost.

Yup i agree with the 15SE.…there is a good reason korea bought it. Oh thats right its a proven fighter and oh gee now its stealthy. Geez seems like a no brainer.

So right, much more dangerous to us than Assad

Air Force 2023, Top priorities?
$1.4 Billion to overhaul all USAF Golf Courses.
$1.5 Billion to ensure all Airmen have direct hi-speed connections to their online college courses.
$2.7 Billion to replace all AAFES outlets with brand name shops(Macy’s, LL Bean, Spots Authority)
$648 Million for standardization of all softball facilities service wide.
$586 Million for revamping Officer’s Clubs.
$428 Million to ensure all USAF swimming pools are brought up to Sea World-San Antonio standards.
$295 Million to standardize regulations and equipment for Co-Ed Volleyball leagues service wide.
Done, that was easy.

I still like the idea of equipping the B-1B with PW F119 engines used by the F-22 Raptor as it would allow the B-1B the capability of prolong supersonic flight because of supercruise and with thrust vectoring, the B-1B would be capable of maneuvering even more like a fighter and would make for a great platform to launch a variety of cruise missiles and air-to-air missiles.

So let me sum up the Air Force’s priorities. Number 1 is that they will continue to funnel the maximum amount of money to the defense contractors that own them. Number 2 is to give as much money as possible out of what is left to the generals. Then they’ll spend the rest on the flunkies and their stupid aircraft. Clearly no amount of budget cuts is going to stop the Air Force from handing out free money to their contractors in the form of profit on development contracts. No amount of budget cuts is going to cause them to stand up their own capability to design large aircraft or to do the basic research required to keep our aircraft on the cutting edge. Just more of the the same with less money to spread around.

I doubt thrust vectoring would be part of the re-engine package. Airplanes have to be designed from the start for those aerodynamic forces. The rest of it would be good though.

The B-1B will not be a supersonic aircraft unless the current inlets are replaced with inlets which are designed for supersonic flight. Optimizing the inlets for subsonic flight (and much lower RCS) was one of the major design changes from the B-1A.

No weapons are cleared, the mission systems software is still not there. So F-35 can only be used to ram targets over ther if their fuel systems don’t overheat first.

Why does torquewrench have –99p? Seems quite a harsh rating.

Gee, one of the Air Force’s primary missions is providing air dominance. Yes we NEED LRS-B and we do need new tankers, but nothing in their top 3 priorities provides air dominance. If F-35 had been on schedule and cost, an F-22 replacement would be on that list. But the slow, non-maneuverable, BVR only, short legged, small internal payload F-35 continues to suck the DoD budget dry. Does anyone really think that F-35 will dominate the skies filled with J-20s and T-50s? Are we willing to cede air dominance in 2023?

F-15’s should still be ruling the skies!

An the F-15 still is the F-22 is DOA in prduction. I feel this is more pet pork projects in protection again like JSF which needs to die in favor of more F-22s F-15 upgrades and a look into new air superiority fighter. I bet the B-1 will get axed soon and so all the hopes in anew bomber which wont fly till at least 2020 is a bit too hopeful. How can we use a bomber we dont have yet but axe alot of current bombers that are here??? This is more political spin and pork spending from the Pentagon like usual.

The AF’s decision to cancel the EB-52 was wise. Standing off 200nm while throwing out trons by the megawatt is not the solution. Getting up close and personal with smaller, more survivable jamming platforms is the way to go. Completing the mission successfully is all about precision.

Vehicles like MALD-J can place the jamming more effectively, for a much cheaper price. Pilots and WSOs no longer need to risk their lives to jam radars or launch HARMs.

Actually the military should be looking at new revenue streams to support their spending appetite like pillaging their enemies. Just think of the revenue that could be gotten from Iraqi oil. Consider also sponsoring a lottery with a $250 million tax free prize. After all the feds sold bonds during the Second World War to finance the military.

The bones were converted in the late 90’s to conventional only, I’m sure at least a few BUFF’s can carry Tactical Nukes. Can u give me a citation when SECDEF Hagel said that?

I’m a ground-pounder so 4 give me but didn’t the “Bone” set 100+ world records for speed, payload, and distance?

The Bone is indeed a very impressive aircraft, the heaviest payload of any bomber ever. Restricted by weapons treaties though. The B-1R program would have also included new inlets, and it was capable of an estimated mach 1.2. It would have also reactivated the external hardpoints (Not for bombs though, still treaty-limited there), and added a new AESA radar. Only downgrade was a 20% reduction in range. Funding was shifted to the new generation bomber project, although theoretically Boeing does still have the design study for it.

I hope they can plan beyond what their stating is their current priorities. The F-35 is no F-15 or F-22. Its a Strike Fighter with Stealth, not general purpose fighter. With the problems being caused by the sequestionation and US Congress becoming near-unfunctional entity. I’m not sure if and new vehicle can be even conceived. Having Cybernetic branch of the Air Force seems weird, aside monitoring US’s Space Command sats in orbit or its Nuclear arsenal it just seems like they do as much as other services. Air Force suppose to be flying planes (manned or remotely), they need actual fully functional vehicle. One can only hope they got something somewhere shady working on it. Fighter Pilot’s days maybe sadly numbered due to technologies and politics, but still doesn’t change fact the US Arsenal needs new assets.

What are they going replace these fighters? Pentagon can get anything built without being declared pork. Their stuck updating what aircraft they have, end up getting left overs like the Attack Fighters (F-35) and likely F/A-18E,F, & G since they’ve been allowed to become production vehicles. Neither by the way has the capacities (as fighter) of their respective predecessor without some compromises.

Wow, it would only do 1.2 M? You’d think by now the USAF would give up on the “stealth” aspect of the B-1 and design the intakes so they don’t have so much spillage at high speed. As it is now, the intakes are like big parachutes mounted under the wings at supersonic speeds.

Mostly DAPA bought it based on lower cost, and because SK industry is already heavy into the F-15 production. Does the KC-46 win remind you of how important local production is. What is more telling is that ROKAF wants the F-35. I fail to see how the F-15SE can serve as a replacement for F-4s and F-5s as a ground attack CAS role. The F-15SE will be a fine aircraft to strike strategic targets, but will be less than successful in the CAS role compared to the F-4 and F-5, or the JSF.

I thought it was the other way around, that F-35 would be able to strike strategic targets by adopting a clean outer configuration and dropping PGM on a target, vs a F-15 that would have a greater RCS, can’t carry anything clean…but has longer range than JSF.

Now that I think about it, range would limit the ability of JSF to be used to knock off strategic targets. Tell me more about F-15SE and JSF in CAS. Both would be used as bomb trucks in the CAS role, more than strafing…

You have to remember it is the Fighter Jock Commanders that want the F-35 and they donot care what other AF programs gets screwed as ong as they have their plane

The only countries we have to worry about when it comes to “Air Dominance” is Russia and China, there is not enought F-22 to provide for that so I think the F-15 will still be around. Once we own the sky’s platforms like Joint STARS will start provided the A-10 if they are stil around, F-16s and the Strike Eagle and what ever F-35 are around with targets of oppurtunity that will make then happy when they drop their bombs

you deleted my comments because they were insulting to the COS?

Just because he advocates total chaos by allowing anyone in the AF to disregard AF instructions if it doesn’t pass their “common sense” test?

Or is it the comment about the AF CoS in the 70’s who decided the AF didn’t need any leaders but managers?

Delete Supply Squadron Commander positions. Transfer supply to Logistic, Capt/Chief slot. You have Program Managers running former Supply Operations, with 50 percent or less manning. Small warehouse, JIT part replacements, Langley running all other functions, with the exception of deployable WRSK teams. Units take over responsibility of Mobility Bag/weapons/equipment.

you forgot some important items

–upgrade all E1-E3 BOQ quarters from 4 stars to 5 stars hotel
–another uniform change
–start up the “We are masters of outer space command” lead by a 4 star with a staff of 5,000

I fly fighters and you have no idea what you are talking about. BVR only? Not maneuverable? Yeah — it’s really slow too.

All this talk for air superiority and all I want is the cost of one F22 to replace my fleet of HH60’s. 95% of our helos are battle damaged from flying into harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan and pulling out wounded Americans. Just upgrading to the Mike model 60 would give us the power margins to fly with our floor armor in so guys like me don’t get shot, again.

If the President requested it, the teabaggers in the house will reject it, and try to blame him for their failures as a legislative body. I can hear booner now, “NOT NO, BUT H-LL NO!!!!!

Considering the delays to Block III Apache production because of bankruptcy of a critical parts supplier, I think it unlikely. The RDS-21 was meant to give the Apaches more power too, but once Northstar went under, they’re doing the whole take-transmission-out-put-into-another-helicopter-in-production dance.


True but it was supported and passes by the Congress, mainly the Tea Party backed extremist Republican members and then as per his duty to sign and enact into force Congressional passed laws, signed by Obama. So, both the President and the Congress had a hand in it’s coming about.

The AF doesn’t have the authority to close bases. They’d like to, but the “not in my district” Congress won’t hear of it.

what’s a “teabagger” ?

are you a pervert of some kind?

The AF combined Trans and Supply Squadrons a decade (or more) ago.

Big-Dean: its what a liberal.….errrrrr… I mean a Politically Progressive Person calls a conservative who believes in a balanced budget, shrinking the national debt, slowing the explosive growth of entitlements, reducing FW&A in SNAP, TANF & SSI & creating a “business friendly” environment nationwide to create private sector jobs, not a bloated federal workforce & energy independence (like the XL pipeline) which is slowly slippin’ away like a dingy on its way to the PRC!

Big-dean.…but “top-Dog” like dog on top does sound like some kinda prevert who lacks “the essence of the purity of bodily fluids”???? quote of AF BG Jack D. Ripper, CO of the SAC 843rd Bomb Group, 29 JAN 1964

Not to mention that in order to jam anything, you need to be close to it, and that even at 200 nm, modern (or even legacy) Russian and Chinese air defense systems can easily shoot you down…

The Just So Failed Junk Strike Fighter is neither WVR nor BVR — its max speed (Mach 1.61) and ceiling (43 angels) are woefully inadequate for it to be a player in the BVR business :) Sorry.

Where did you get that from?

We should have at least 350 F-22s by now But thanks to Mr.Gates who held a personal grudge against a couple AF generals for getting cocky at a press conference and saying that they were going to get the more F-22s despite what the Def. Sec. said and a week later the B-52/Nuke scandal broke and they were sacked . Then shortly after that the F-22 production line was shut down and the decision to go with the F-35 was made by Mr Gates. Mr.Gates said at the time that Russia and China would not have stealth prototypes until at least 2020 and that we did not need anymore F-22s, despite a private study was done that said the very least we could have of the F-22s and still be able to provide air superiority was 350 F-22s and recommend that around 500 F-22s were needed to not put our future forces at risk, and given the fact that it can carry two 1000 lb JDAMs and still carry two AIM-9x and two AIM-120s makes it the best stealth attack jet on the planet. The Airforce should have canceled the F-35 and used it for tech. upgrades to the F-22 like the DAS and helmet mounted cueing system then like in WW2 had just a bomber and fighter as the two major components of the Airforce .

“Skies filled with J-20s and T-50s.” LMAO!!! As if they’ll even have an operational regiment of J-20 and an operational T-50 aircraft by 2023!!!


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