A Nevada Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft flies over Lake Tahoe in a two-ship civic leader orientation flight, March 25, 2022.

A Nevada Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft flies over Lake Tahoe in a two-ship civic leader orientation flight, March 25, 2022. U.S. Air National Guard / Senior Airman Thomas Cox

The Air & Space Brief: Space seeks 40% budget boost, Mars Rover gets mothballed, Air Force to cut 150 planes

Welcome to the Defense One Air and Space newsletter. Here are our top stories this week:  

Space Force big budget winner: The Space Force seeks $24.5 billion in the 2023 budget, about 40 percent more than last year’s request. Officials said the jump reflects the urgency to launch and defend satellites that can spot a hypersonic missile, track a moving truck, assure U.S. nuclear command and control, and more. “There's no more important services than missile warning and the nuclear command-and-control capability we get from space,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told reporters about the request. 

USAF proposes cutting 150 aircraft: U.S. Air Force leaders want to shed hundreds of “unnecessary” planes and drones and spend more on nuclear and high-tech weapons they say are better suited for a war with China or Russia. They lay out their proposal in the service’s $169 billion 2023 spending request, which is $13.2 billion higher than last year’s request. The service is asking for approval to retire 150 aircraft, including eight E-8 JSTARS radar planes, 21 A-10 attack planes, 33 F-22 training jets, 15 E-3 Sentry AWACS-carrying radar planes, 13 KC-135 aerial refueling tankers, 10 C-130H cargo planes, and 50 T-1 trainers.

AWACS replacement: Speaking of AWACS, the Air Force’s new budget request includes about $225 million to start replacing decades-old E-3s with...well, it’s not quite decided. But a “leading candidate” is the E-7 Wedgetail, a Boeing aircraft flown by several allies, Marcus Weisgerber reports. 

Mars Rover put in storage: The European Space Agency is putting the ExoMars Rover “in storage in Italy until further notice,” Gizmodo reported Monday.  The rover was scheduled to launch this fall, land on Mars in 2023, and drill and explore for signs of past or present life. Russia was providing rockets for launch, contributions to the scientific payload, the surface platform, and ground station support, but the European Space Agency cut Russia from the program following its invasion of Ukraine. 

Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Tuesday from Tara Copp, Defense One’s Senior Pentagon Reporter. This week in 1963, NASA successfully tested the Saturn I SA-4 rocket. The rocket led the way to the Saturn V “that would eventually carry the first humans to the Moon.”

From Defense One

Space Force Gets Roughly 40% Increase in Biden Request // Tara Copp

A constellation of satellites will track ground vehicles, improve launch trajectories, and better nuclear command-and-control.

More Nuclear, Less Ground Attack in Biden's Air Force Budget Request // Marcus Weisgerber and Tara Copp

The 2023 spending proposal calls for retiring 150 planes, shifting funds, and reconfiguring for possible war with China or Russia.

Let Us Retire 50-Year Old Radar Planes, Air Force Asks Congress // Marcus Weisgerber

The E-7 Wedgetail is the "leading candidate" to replace the oft-grounded E-3 Sentry, if Congress approves the president's 2023 budget request.