Senior Air Force officials say they were given a $15 billion budget cut across 2007-11, leaving them with scant room to wiggle. There will be personnel cuts (see below). And, the service will buy only 183 F/A-22 Raptors (number corrected from 185 following official USAF briefing on 12/13/05). The fighters will cost more per unit because the service must extend production by two years to 2010 to create a bridge to F-35 Joint Strike Fighter production. All four services are taking cuts, but they all agreed USAF must buy fifth generation fighters. Say goodbye to the FB-22 bomber variant, however. Watch this space for more QDR news.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.