Aviation Drought

The Pentagon expects the US will go at least 10 years without producing any bombers or strategic lift aircraft, according to an “Aircraft Investment Plan – Fiscal Years 2011-2040,” provided to Congress yesterday along with fiscal 2011 budget materials. Tankers would be bought at a planned peak of 21 per year in FY15-16, dropping to 18 per year afterwards. Remotely piloted aircraft like the MQ-9 Reaper—for the Air Force only—would be bought at a peak rate of 48 per year. The Air Force would not get more than 80 F-35s a year under the investment plan. For the future, the Pentagon sees an F-22 replacement being needed around 2025, but no new bomber until 2028. However, the Defense Department thinks the aviation industrial base will be healthy during this same period, with severely truncated military buys.