Issue Briefs

Air Force Confirms It Plans To Slash F-35 Buy In 2023–But Can’t Explain Why (From Forbes)

Air Force Confirms It Plans To Slash F-35 Buy In 2023–But Can’t Explain Why (From Forbes)

Loren B. Thompson

March 28th, 2022

The Air Force publicly confirmed on March 28 that it intends to buy a much smaller number of F-35 fighters in 2023 than previously planned. It says it still intends to eventually buy 1,763 of the stealthy fighters, but at the proposed rate for next year, that would take half a century. Congress will have something to say about all this. Here are five questions Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall should be ready to answer when budget hearings are held: (1) Why slash your most important military aircraft program during a war? (2) Why cut the one aircraft that every overseas partner seems to want? (3) Why trim a program that is over-delivering on price and performance? (4) Why buy more outdated combat aircraft while buying fewer new ones? (5) Why damage a domestic manufacturing base that is already struggling– especially on the eve of midterm elections? I have written a commentary for Forbes here.

Loren B. Thompson is a Senior Adviser at GPI, Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern