The Air Force wants to add 4,700 airmen to its ranks, as well as purchase more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, MQ-9 Reaper drones, the latest KC-46 tankers and a slew of weapons, according to its fiscal 2019 budget request.
The service is requesting $194.1 billion, including war funding -- a 14 percent increase from the previous request, for more personnel; operations and maintenance; and research and development, among other accounts.
The request would increase the size of the active-duty end strength to just over 329,100 airmen, an increase of 4,000 airmen over the previous year, according to the documents. The Air National Guard is requesting another 500 airmen; the Air Force Reserve wants another 200 airmen.
"We continue to focus on addressing gaps in critical career fields to include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; remotely piloted aircraft; and cyber career fields," the budget request states. That includes ramping up training pipelines for those career fields, it added.
1K New Pilots
The service also seeks more active-duty pilots to combat its ongoing pilot shortage.
"The FY 2019 Active Air Force budget supports production of 989 new pilots and funds 883,748 flying hours while sustaining a fleet of 4,051 aircraft," the document states.
More F-35s, MQ-9s, KC-46s
The service intends to buy 48 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters, a small but steady increase as more F-35s roll off the Lockheed Martin production line.
It will also purchase 15 more KC-46 Pegasus refueling tankers, on par with last year's request.
Billions for B-21 Research
In its research and development request, the main focus is on the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber program. The Air Force is requesting $2.3 billion for modernization efforts, a boost of more than $300 million.
The service also hopes to boost its weapons buying program for multiple aircraft involved in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as it sees an increasing number of missions in Afghanistan.
Thousands More JDAMs, Hellfires
It also intends to buy 4,338 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, likely to coincide with the MQ-9 increase.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.
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