WASHINGTON Feb 6 The U.S. Air Force will have
to curtail its orders for Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35
fighter jet, restructure a $52 billion tanker contract with
Boeing Co and reduce its flying hours by 18 percent if
lawmakers do not avert impending across-the-board spending cuts,
the service told Congress on Wednesday.
The Air Force, in a draft presentation to Congress, said it
faced shortfalls of $1.8 billion in war funding and $12.4
billion overall if Congress does not forestall the cuts, known
as sequestration, which are due to take effect on March 1.
The impact of sequestration would be exacerbated, the Air
Force said, if Congress did not pass a budget for the current
fiscal year and stuck with the stop-gap spending measure
currently in place, known as a "continuing resolution," or CR.
"Without substantial reprogramming flexibility, a year-long
CR and sequestration disrupts modernization programs" and means
a delay in getting weapons into the hands of troops, according
to the presentation, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
It cited several examples, including expected reductions in
the number of F-35 purchases, the need to renegotiate a big
contract with Boeing for new refueling planes, and a delay in a
new version of the MQ-9 Reaper drone built by privately held
The stop-gap spending measure prohibits any new programs
from starting, and limits spending to what it was in the
previous fiscal year's budget, hindering the ramping up of
planned spending for new programs.
The Air Force said acquisitions of several weapons systems
built by Lockheed Martin - new missile warning satellites,
C-130J transport planes and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter - were
already being delayed.
It said it also faced the possibility of a short-term
furlough of 180,000 civilian contractors, an unprecedented
action that would delay testing of new weapons systems, which in
turn would raise program costs and delay programs.
The service said more than 30 weapons systems would face
reduced maintenance, affecting nearly all fighter jets,
transport planes and bombers in the Air Force fleet.
In addition, it said military communications worldwide
could be affected because of a 75 percent cut in sustainment of
the Defense Satellite Communications System.
Work at a number of ground radar sites would also be reduced
to eight hours a day from 24, cutting the military's ability to
monitor enemy missile launches and maintain surveillance of
satellite and other objects in space.
Representative Mike Turner, chairman of the House Armed
Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces, said the
Air Force's draft presentation was "highly troubling."
"Sequestration will affect mission readiness and our
deployed personnel around the globe. Civilian furloughs will
delay systems testing - ultimately increasing end costs to the
taxpayer and the amount of time it takes to deliver equipment to
our warfighters," Turner said in a statement.
The Air Force said it had already implemented a hiring
freeze for all permanent and temporary employees, which would
cut its ability to provide trained workers for intelligence
analysis, management of nuclear weapons and completion of more
It said it was also laying off 3,200 employees who worked in
non-mission critical areas such as inspections, conferences and
training, and was reviewing plans for demonstration flights at
the Paris Air Show and other international events.