The US Air Force has placed a request of $166.3bn for its 2012 budget – down $4.5bn from 2011 – with primary focus on combat capabilities and balance.

The budget proposal priorities include strengthening the nuclear enterprise, partnering with the joint and coalition team engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq and modernising air, space and cyberspace inventories.

The air force is requesting $5.2bn to strengthen the nuclear enterprise while modernisation efforts include F-15 Eagle radar upgrades, C-5A Galaxy engine and reliability upgrades and C-130 Hercules avionics modernisation and improvements.

“The procurement portion of the 2012 budget includes funding for 48 MQ-9 Reapers, the maximum number that can be produced for the air force within a given year,” General Flowers said.

The request includes $553m for advanced extremely-high-frequency (AEHF) satellites, and $244m toward advanced procurement for space-based infrared system (SBIRS) satellites.

The largest portion of the decrease constitutes the reduction of $4.4bn in the overseas contingency operations, which relates to the drawdown in Iraq.