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AF Getting Biggest Budget Hike Of All
By Patrick J. Dickson
Stars and Stripes
European Edition

February 3, 2004

ARLINGTON, Va. The Air Force takes home the lion's share of the budget increase for fiscal 2005, with a lot of the boost going to the concept of being the eyes and ears of the war fighters.

The service is requesting $120.5 billion, an 8.7 percent increase from 2004, compared to the average 7 percent for all the services.

The proposed budget was briefed to reporters Friday by a senior Air Force budget official.

The service wants to buy four Global Hawk unmanned high-altitude surveillance aircraft, a craft that was "highly effective in Afghanistan and Iraq," the official said. The Air Force wants to spend $700 million on the program, needing half that for four units, the other half for research and testing.

There will also be a slight increase to $280 million for the Predator program, for seven new "A" models and two "B" models, as well as money to improve the "B" model and $20 million for 235 Hellfire missiles.

The Predator and Hellfire were responsible for a "kill" of six suspected al-Qaida members in Yemen in November 2002.

The service's premier fighter aircraft, the F/A-22, is to receive $4.8 billion for the purchase of 24 aircraft and related research and testing.

A video played at the briefing showed a cluster of buildings in the Mideast being devastated by bombers as the official noted that the budget "continues to improve our infrastructure," and looking at the screen, said "not necessarily THIS infrastructure."

But high-tech toys are not the only thing the Air Force is seeking to buy.

The request includes money to replace 10,410 units of family housing, or about 10 percent of the Air Force's stock. The service is seeking $1.7 billion to achieve this.

The Air Force wants to replace all inadequate housing by 2007, except at four bases in the United States: Mountain Home, Grand Forks, Minot and Malmstrom. These "northern tier" bases are too remote, and there is not enough local housing to move people into temporarily until work can be completed, according to a senior Air Force budget official.

A few quality-of-life projects for overseas servicemembers stand out:

The Air Force is seeking $37.1 million to build two 144-room dormitories on Kunsan Air Base, in South Korea.

For Osan Air Base, also in South Korea, an $18.6 million, 156-room dormitory is sought, as is $46.3 million for 117 new units of family housing.

At Ramstein Air Base, Germany, 144 units of family housing is being sought, at a cost of $57.7 million.

Planners want $44 million for 154 new units of family housing at RAF Lakenheath, England.

In Greenland, at Thule Air Base, the Air Force is asking for $19.8 billion to build a new 72-room dormitory.

But it was technology that was the star attraction of the briefing, and the official clearly relished briefing the topic.

"That's what we do, we support combatant commanders all over the world, that's the whole point of the United States Air Force."

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This article is provided courtesy of Stars & Stripes, which got its start as a newspaper for Union troops during the Civil War, and has been published continuously since 1942 in Europe and 1945 in the Pacific. Stripes reporters have been in the field with American soldiers, sailors and airmen in World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Bosnia and Kosovo, and are now on assignment in the Middle East.

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Copyright 2004 Stars and Stripes. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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