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.