Love It, But

Curt Weldon, chairman of the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee, says he supports all three of the military’s tactical aircraft programs—the F-22, F-35, and F/A-18E/F. However, he told attendees Wednesday at AFA’s Washington conference that all three won’t fit in the budget. “You can’t get there from here with the budget we have,” Weldon asserted. He singled out the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as one capability “we have to have,” to replace aging fighters across all three services. It’s “an absurdity” to cut the F-35, he said, not only because of the need to re-equip squadrons with fresh machines, but because the nation simply can’t turn its back on cooperative development deals struck with allies partnered on the project. Noting that Britain and Italy collectively have ponied up more than $3 billion for JSF development, and the program must be preserved because “we have no choice but to work with our key allies” in any military operations, he said. “We would be in terrible trouble” if the F-35 program fell apart, or if the allies walked away from it, Weldon warned.