In Other Words, 183 Is Not Enough:

Asked if the Pentagon’s newly approved figure of 183 F-22s (down from 381 sought until recently) was derived from sound strategic analysis or was simply the result of budget pressure, Gen. Ronald Keys said that 381 “is still my number.” That is what is needed to cover all the Air Force’s responsibilities, he said, and having only 183 means the nation “will have to accept some risk.” By way of an analogy, he said that the fighter situation is like “my roof … leaking. I’ll put some shingles up, cover the rest with blue tarp, and hope no big wind comes up.” He went on to say that, after factoring out the number of F-22s needed for training, test, and maintenance, the Air Force will be left on any given day with 126 combat-coded aircraft. That will yield, at most, seven F-22 squadrons (compared to the 10 originally sought), and each of the seven will have no more than 18 fighters (compared to 24 originally planned). Asked whether that is enough fighter airpower, Keys responded, “That’s all we can afford.”