The 1,763 Number Is Firm:

Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley insist that they have not backed off the requirement for 1,763 Joint Strike Fighters for USAF. Talking with reporters at AFA’s Air & Space Conference yesterday, Moseley said the airplane is needed and programmed to start replacing legacy aircraft as soon as possible. It will be the “backbone of the force … and also the gold standard” of fighters in the world, he said. It’s important not to delay the aircraft not only because USAF needs it to continue its “divestiture” of obsolete systems, but to keep international customers in the program. There are strong coalition advantages to having a common fighter, Wynne said, and Moseley noted that there are “other aircraft” from which allies could choose if JSF is interminably stalled. Wynne added that the US can’t simply “abandon the schedule … and hope the allies won’t notice.”