* The inclusion of "pass-through" programs in the Air Force's budget obscures the insufficient level of funding the service is receiving for modernization, analysts caution.
The requested fiscal year 2020 topline for the Air Force was $204.8 billion. However, that number includes $39.2 billion in funding for programs that the service doesn't control, such as national intelligence projects, according to a recently released Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies policy paper titled, "Moving Toward the Air Force We Need? Assessing Air Force Budget Trends."
The so-called "blue budget," which excludes pass-through programs and is more reflective of the Air Force's resources, was only $165.6 billion, the study said.
Reports and fiscal documents "that fail to distinguish between the Air Force's blue and non-blue budgets can create a skewed picture of resources it actually has to develop and build next-generation aircraft and other major weapon systems," wrote coauthors Mark Gunzinger, director of future aerospace concepts and capability assessments at the Mitchell Institute, and Carl Rehberg, a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Non-blue programs in the Air Force's 2020 budget request accounted for a whopping $22.4 billion in procurement and $10.6 billion for research development, test and evaluation, according to the report. In comparison, the blue budget for procurement and RDT&E came to $27.7 billion and $35.4 billion...