Proposed 2021 Pentagon budget shrouds Air Force programs in secrecy; Congress may be hard-pressed to approve

Feb. 11, 2020
Air Force seeks to retire aging radar planes and surveillance drones, but budget says barely anything about what will replace these outdated assets.

WASHINGTON – When the U.S. armed forces revealed the proposed 2021 Pentagon budget on Monday, it became clear that the Air Force has a problem the other military departments do not; much of what it wants to do with $63 billion sought for new weapons and warfighting technology is secret. Loren Thompson at Forbes reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

11 Feb. 2020 -- That applies doubly to the newly minted Space Force, which operates within the Department of the Air Force. There are literally hundreds of line items in the proposed budget that are classified, with the largest share consisting of recently begun efforts to provide increased awareness, protection and connectivity in space.

The secrecy doesn’t just obscure the status of “black” programs like the next-generation B-21 bomber. In some cases, the budget doesn’t even acknowledge that key programs exist. Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein has been briefing select members of Congress on how the Air Forces proposes to modernize for future great power conflict, but those briefings are generally “special access,” meaning secret, too.

Secrecy is not generally a problem in terms of program execution. Classified programs sometimes unfold more smoothly because they are subject to less oversight or outside criticism. The problem is how to explain to lawmakers why you want to retire a cherished legacy system when you can’t disclose what is taking its place.

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John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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