There have been three separate studies into the question of how many new F-22A fighters the Air Force should buy. The Air Force has long maintained that it must have 381 to outfit its 10 expeditionary forces and have enough left over for test, attrition reserve, and training. The Pentagon leadership, principally Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, would terminate the buy at 183 despite the fact that the three studies supported more aircraft. The Lexington Institute’s Loren Thompson, in a new issue brief, explains that the Pentagon hasn’t shared these expert reviews with Congress or the public for one simple reason: “Policymakers are once again ignoring expert analysis because it doesn’t match their personal preferences.” This “defect,” he writes, is apparent now as senior policymakers develop the 2009 budget proposal and hold to the 183-line, which Thompson puts in the category of “some pretty big mistakes.”
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.