WASHINGTON Dec 4 The U.S. Air Force may have to
cut funding for research and development unless Congress
reverses a law requiring across the board spending cuts, the No.
2 Air Force acquisition official said on Wednesday.
Lieutenant General Charles Davis, military deputy to the Air
Force's top weapons buyer, said Pentagon leaders were determined
to protect funding in new technologies, but the Air Force would
have to cut funding in that area somewhat to ensure the
readiness of its forces if sequestration stayed in effect.
"You've got to realize that science and technology ... will
also have to pay its share as we move forward with
sequestrations that range from 13 percent to 20 percent," Davis
told an investor conference hosted by Credit Suisse in New York.
His remarks were webcast.
The Pentagon is bracing for additional mandatory cuts in
military spending in fiscal 2014, which began Oct. 1, although
lawmakers are working on a budget deal that could ease the
extent of those cuts.
If Congress fails to reverse sequestration, the Pentagon
will have to cut planned spending by $500 billion over the
decade that began in fiscal 2013, on top of $487 billion in
reductions that were already planned for the same time.
Industry executives and academics this week urged Congress
to reverse the cuts, which have already triggered thousands of
layoffs. They also warned that scaling back government funding
in R&D projects could undercut U.S. competitiveness in the
Davis said the Air Force was being forced to reduce
procurement and development funding because of lawmakers'
refusal to allow the closure of excess military facilities and
the time it takes for force reductions to affect the budget.
He said the continuing uncertainty about budget levels for
fiscal 2014 and future years was a huge challenge for Air Force
program managers, and for now they were being told to plan for a
continuation of budget levels seen in fiscal 2013, minus about 2
percent to 3 percent.
Davis told the conference he hoped Congress would pass a
continuing resolution to keep funding the government, since such
a measure would at least allow the services to shift funding to
priority areas. However such measures limit the service's
ability to start any new programs, he said.
Davis said any cuts could force the Air Force to reduce its
planned orders of F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin
Corp. He said he hoped to avoid cutting spending on the
program's development since that would delay work on the final
software version needed to give the jet its full combat
Even as it grapples with daunting budget challenges, the Air
Force is also continuing to try to improve its acquisition
process, Davis said, citing concerns about the current sluggish
process of negotiating contracts with industry.
"We're losing money ... every time we drag these things
out," he said, citing the Air Force's current discussions with
Lockheed about a multiyear deal for more C-130J cargo planes.
He said government and industry needed to communicate more
openly to arrive at a more common picture of fair profit, but
there were also additional savings possible in overhead on both
the government and industry side.
He said the oversight process had also grown unwieldy,
because "everybody's second-guessing everything that's out there