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Preparing for mass deployments and improving aircraft fleet among US Air Force priorities for FY2025

5th February 2024 - 14:03 GMT | by Flavia Camargos Pereira in Kansas City

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Progressing with the F-35 acquisition has been a pressing issue for the USAF. (Photo: USAF)

The branch’s main concerns for FY2025 will include integrating systems and equipment, improving software, cyber capabilities and aircraft fleet, and preparing for mass deployments.

The US Air Force (USAF) has already defined its priorities for FY2025 in order to improve its capabilities and better equip airmen for tomorrow’s warfare.

“We are looking at things that impact our readiness, our people, our ability to project power, and also what that means for our installation and our ability to develop capability,” remarked Kristyn E. Jones, assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management and comptroller. 

Jones, who has recently been performing the duties of undersecretary of the Air Force, said in a recent webinar conducted by the US-based thinktank CSIS, that better integrating systems and equipment, improving software, cyber capabilities and its aircraft fleet, and preparing for mass deployments were among the branch’s main concerns.

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“The four areas that you will hear us make announcements is readiness, power projection capabilities, development and people,” she claimed.

While Jones could not disclose details on the total amount the USAF would request to fund its activities over the next fiscal year, she did note that the service has to “make some really difficult choices” and that during FY2025 the branch would maintain its “focus on integration in a number of different ways”.

“Integration is one of the things that has been a focus for [FY2025] and will ramp up even more with our great power competition efforts in FY2026 and further out, as we think about how to be better integrated, less platform focused and more effects focus,” Jones said.

Progressing with the Command, Control, Communications and Battle Management (C3BM) programme was listed as a primary issue and the USAF has requested $270.1 million to advance its effort in this arena in FY2024. It will be expected to allocate more funds towards C3BM in the next fiscal year.

This initiative will attempt to replace obsolete legacy systems by harness emerging information, communications and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, as well as providing the branch with targeting and decision support with speed, adaptability and resilience.

USAF has planned to enhance its software ecosystem by improving infrastructure across multiple levels. (Photo: USAF)

C3BM has been the air force’s core contribution to the DoD’s Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) implementation plan.

“One of the areas that has been a particular focus is whether we have the right capability development and the right lifecycle,” Jones noted.

The service also has plans in place to enhance its software ecosystem by improving infrastructure at multiple levels. Such an effort would involve preparing airmen to better handle cyber-related challenges.

As Jones pointed out, the branch has envisioned that there would be “a much more intellectual and software cyber dependent fight in the future”.

Improving aircraft inventory was another pressing matter for the USAF. Lt Gen Richard G. Moore, US deputy chief of staff for plans and programmes, claimed that 44% of the service fleet had passed its design service life.

The branch has been operating helicopters and AEW&C, combat, ISR, transport and training platforms for three decades or more.

One of the first concerns Moore raised comprised retiring ageing systems such as C-130 transport aircraft; A-10, F-15C/D and F-22 fighters; B-1 bombers; E-3 AEW&C aircraft; E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar Systems; HH-60G helicopters; KC-10 tankers; and T-1A trainers.

The KC-46A Pegasus performing aerial refuelling of an F-16 Fighting Falcon. (Photo: USAF)

It would also require the purchasing of new capabilities to replace legacy platforms. In this sense, the priority would be on progressing with a number of procurement efforts including the B-21 Raider bomber, KC-46A Pegasus tanker and F-35 multirole combat aircraft.

Additionally, the service planned to continually apply lessons learned from Ukraine in the country’s battle to repel Russia’s invasion, among which has been the preparation to sustain large, mass consumption and formations.

Taking into consideration that the National Defense Strategy (NDS) 2022 focused on the Indo-Pacific theatre, the distance from US shores would mean an additional challenge for US forces.

“We have not had the kinds of deployments of mass numbers, large formations that we would expect to have in an INDOPACOM environment in many, many decades,” Jones highlighted. “One of the things that we have been thinking about is how do we move faster at scale?”

According to Jones, the approach has involved focusing on “mission over function to really maximise effect” in a great power competition scenario. Preparing the branch’s facilities worldwide to support large mobilisation efforts has been another priority.

“I would not say that we are looking at realigning where installations are or closing anything – not to that extreme,” Jones stressed. “But how do we make sure that we are using our installations as basis for power projection?”

Among its range of efforts, the USAF has in recent year been primarily exploring how it can withstand Chinese military capabilities and keep pace with Beijing’s latest technological advances.

Flavia Camargos Pereira

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Flavia Camargos Pereira


Flavia Camargos Pereira is a land reporter at Shephard Media. She joined the company in …

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