USAF Unfunded Priorities Include More F-15EXs, No Additional F-35As

The Air Force wants another dozen F-15EXs as part of the $4.2 billion unfunded priorities list it submitted to Congress this week, but the service is not asking for any additional F-35A strike fighters.

The Space Force sent a separate request to the Hill, but it’s not clear what is included on that list or how much it would cost. Last year, the Department of the Air Force sent a $4.2 billion unfunded priorities list to the Hill, which included $3.2 billion for the Air Force and $1 billion for the fledgling Space Force.

The most recent UPL, which highlights priorities not part of the 2022 budget request, includes $1.376 billion for the 12 F-15EXs, plus spares, support equipment, and 24 conformal fuel tanks.

In a notable break from tradition, it does not include any additional F-35As. The 2021 and 2020 unfunded priority lists included a dozen F-35s each. The service, in its budget request released last week, asks to buy 48 F-35s, the same number it requested in 2021, though Congress ended up adding 12 more to last year’s request.

The 2022 unfunded priorities list does include $360 million for F-35 sustainment, which would buy 20 F-135 power modules and fund weapons systems sustainment for “critical F-35 capability.”  

The list also includes $825 million for other weapon system sustainment, including for readiness spares, U-2 operations, and EC-37 spare engines. The list includes $377 million to build a command and control framework, including $152 million for Three Dimensional Long-Range Radar, $112 million for Battlefield Airborne Communications Node operations and maintenance, $105 million for a command and mission control center and air operations center integration for the Air National Guard, as well as $9 million for seven MAN Portable TACAN systems.

The list outlines $180 million for aircraft upgrades and technologies, including Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar Systems, Adaptive Engine Transition Program, and Large Common Carriage development.

It also seeks $736 million for military construction and $320 million for facility sustainment, restoration, and modernization, though no specific projects were highlighted.