subsequent downsizing of the U.S. military, the services have attempted to meet the resultant resource shortfall by taking advantage of excess inventory to address their equipment needs from existing systems or by modernizing existing systems rather than procuring new systems. In this light, the overall pattern of DoD budget reductions seems reasonable. However, RDT&E budgets, particularly the S&T portion of these budgets, must continue to anticipate the need for new technologies and systems once excess inventory has been depleted. Also, the change in threat places new demands on RDT&E.
The 35 percent decline in the Air Force S&T budget since 1988 is inconsistent with the Air Force goal of maintaining technological superiority. S&T funding must be maintained if the Air Force is to retain its technical superiority. A vigorous S&T program is also a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the future health of the defense aerospace industry. Decisions about current expenditures and investments in future technologies should be based on a vision and a plan to ensure the development of technical resources for the future and to insulate S&T budgets from the vagaries of market fluctuations and short-term fixes.
The negative effects of budget reductions have been magnified by the instability of individual program budgets. Instability results from a policy of seeking to keep all or nearly all programs alive while shuffling money among them to deal with immediate problems. Shifting priorities and inadequate management reserves also disrupt programs, undermining the effectiveness of S&T and R&D spending.
Also, erosion in the integrity of the 6.1 to 6.5 funding process has destabilized S&T programs. Air Force S&T accounts have been reprogrammed to pay bills and to meet pressing O&M and procurement needs that have arisen with the recent increase in operations tempo (Etter, 2000).
Funding of Air Force S&T programs has become increasingly unstable. “Raiding” of S&T budgets to meet short-term readiness goals is an understandable reaction to short-term pressures but is not an acceptable policy for meeting long-term national security requirements because it destroys S&T program integrity and viability, wastes resources, and undermines the stability of the defense aerospace industry. Senior Air Force leadership must take into account that a viable industry is an absolute requirement for a strong U.S.