No Change in Total Number

Some news sources have reported that USAF intends to buy less than half the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters it had planned because the new budget only allows it to purchase 48 per year through 2013, not the preferred run of 110 per year. It isn’t so, per USAF budget director, Maj. Gen. Frank Faykes. He did tell reporters in the budget briefs that USAF would ramp up low-rate initial production, getting to “about 48” by the end of the future years defense plan. He went on to say that buying 110 per year is “the maximum rate we’d like to buy over the life of this program,” and added that the service “would like to get to at least 85 a year” depending on funding availability. He noted that the total buy is still around 1,700 (1,763 to be exact). Another USAF official, speaking on background, explained that if the rate remains at 48 per year, it would take 40 years to acquire the requisite number of F-35s. The senior official maintained, “Clearly, this is not going to work.” That is why USAF leaders are determined to get more money to remedy the service’s recapitalization and readiness woes.