Procurement: Must Have More F-35s Sooner


February 7, 2008: The U.S. Air Force, which still has over a hundred of its F-15C jet interceptors grounded because of age related structural problems, wants something to replace the stricken aircraft. The air force has backed off from trying to get Congress to buy more F-22 fighters. Instead, it is asking for more money so that the new F-35 fighter-bomber can be produced more quickly.

The F-35 costs about half as much as the F-22. Congress will not buy more than about 200 of the F-22, but has already agreed to buy over 2,000 of the F-35s. Both aircraft are stealthy, but the F-22 is better equipped for air-to-air combat. While the F-22 is replacing the F-15, the F-35 is replacing the more numerous, and cheaper, F-16. The F-35 is currently scheduled to start mass production in 2014. A few years after that, peak production of over 100 aircraft a year will be achieved. The air force wants to start mass production, and peak production, a few years earlier. This would give the air force new aircraft to replace F-15s that might have to be retired earlier.


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