In the years following the Cold War, and again following the 2007 troop surge to Iraq, the size of the Air Force and its corresponding modernization accounts were dramatically cut. After decades of hard use and too little investment, the service now faces mission demands that far outpace available capacity.
A myth exists that the Air Force is funded equally with the other services. Analysis shows that DoD only allocates 23% of the defense budget to the Air Force’s “blue” budget, which excludes pass-through funding for programs that the service does not control (mostly national intelligence-related programs). An assessment of budget trends reveals the nation has dramatically underfunded the Air Force, especially when compared to the other services.
These conclusions correspond to congressionally mandated force structure assessments called for in Section 1064 of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The assessments concluded the Air Force must grow its capacity to meet strategy-driven requirements. This cannot be done absent increased resources.