Congress approves funding transfer to Air Force's NC3 programs

By Sara Sirota / October 13, 2020 at 2:21 PM

Congress has approved a Pentagon request to transfer $63.7 million from the Air Force's fiscal year 2020 operations and maintenance account to the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center and Nuclear Command, Control and Communications Center.

The Defense Department asked lawmakers to permit the transfer in a reprogramming request sent to congressional defense committees in August. The Pentagon comptroller's office has released an updated copy of the document with feedback from the panels. Lawmakers in total allowed DOD to shift $1.4 billion of the $1.7 billion the department sought to transfer.

The Pentagon argued in the request that NAOC and the NC3 Center have been underfunded historically and require an additional $63.7 billion to maintain lines of communication between the president and the nuclear task forces. DOD further stated the Air Force fully funded both programs in the FY-21 budget proposal.

NAOC is an emergency jet where the president can direct military forces and civil authorities in the event of a nuclear conflict or another doomsday scenario where ground C2 platforms are wiped out. The Air Force is currently in the early stages of replacing the 1980s-era aircraft.

The NC3 Center, meanwhile, is an organization within Air Force Global Strike Command that provides technical and operational support to maintain a secure communication path between the National Military Command Authority and airmen overseeing nuclear forces.