U.S. and Allied aircraft conduct an elephant walk on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, July 19, 2023.

U.S. and Allied aircraft conduct an elephant walk on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, July 19, 2023. U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Christian Sullivan

Air Force’s wishlist includes money for parts and readiness

The $3.5 billion “unfunded priorities” list also includes money for exercises and military construction projects.

In addition to the $188.1 billion the U.S. Air Force asked for in the 2025 budget, the service wants $3.5 billion more from Congress to accelerate its new “reoptimization” effort, buy more aircraft spare parts, and fund military construction projects, according to an “unfunded” wishlist obtained by Defense One

A few of the items on the wishlist are connected to a service overhaul announced in February that’s intended to make the service leaner as it prepares for war with China. Part of that effort is changing the way the Air Force structures its wings so they train and deploy together.

The “unfunded list” asks for $612 million toward that model, to buy parts and equipment to create nine new deployable “mission generation force elements,” which would use existing people and fighter jets, according to the unfunded priorities list.

“This one-time requirement would provide the readiness spares packages, aviation support equipment, and munitions support equipment necessary to reorganize the fighter force structure to produce nine additional mission generation force elements which would make available up to 208 combat-coded fighter aircraft in the existing USAF inventory. Funds for sustaining equipment and aircraft are already funded throughout the [future years defense program],” according to the document.

The wishlist also includes $266 million for more exercises in the Pacific. That money would pay for Pacific Air Forces, “along with other MAJCOMs, joint, allies, and partner forces, to execute theater-wide Agile Combat Employment exercises.” 

When officials rolled out the reoptimization effort, they said the changes themselves wouldn’t have a “big cost imposition,” but that the service would need more money to conduct the large-scale exercises they’re planning to practice their new deployment method. 

The fighter force reoptimization and PACAF exercises weren’t included in the fiscal 2025 budget request because they weren’t “developed in time” for the budget submission, according to the unfunded list.

The service’s most pricey wish is $1.5 billion for “single spares restock” for aircraft that are “projected to be grounded” due to a lack of spare parts. The full funding needed wasn’t requested in the fiscal year 2025 budget request because of fiscal constraints, according to the document. 

The wishlist also includes $1.1 billion for military construction projects around the world. The Air Force said they couldn’t fit that into the budget request because of growing requirements and inflation. 

Separately, the Space Force sent Congress an $1.15 billion wishlist, which includes funds for 13 programs—six of which are classified. In total, the service wants $786 million for classified programs. 

Some of the Space Force’s other asks include funding for a military construction project at Buckley Space Force Base in Colorado, and the Rocket Systems Launch Project, which launches experimental technologies into space.