Talk of cuts to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program are surfacing again and seems to be focusing on the Air Force conventional takeoff and landing version once again. The CTOL variant was squarely in the QDR crosshairs until Pentagon officials acknowledged late last year that cutting it would not bring great savings. Now the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England says the Pentagon will reduce the JSF buy. That’s not all. The Texas newspaper also quotes the Lexington Institute’s well-informed Loren Thompson, who says an Air Force “internal plan” cuts the number of F-35s from 1,763 to perhaps 1,200 or fewer. We do know that USAF probably will not pursue a short takeoff and vertical landing variant, but it was considering buying only a couple hundred of the STOVL version.
More than 100 B-21s will be needed if the nation is to avoid creating a high demand/low capacity capability, panelists said on a Hudson Institute webinar. The B-21's flexibility, stealth, range and payload will be in high demand for a wide range of missions, both traditional and new.