The F-35 Lightning II is red meat for budget-cutters, the USAF’s top civilian leader told reporters Tuesday. “As programs get larger, they look like better targets” for reduction, said Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne. He hopes that doesn’t happen; he said USAF is counting on the F-35 to meet the vision of an all-stealth force. He wants the airplane “as soon as we can get it.” However, if Congress is adamant about delaying the program a year, Wynne believes the Air Force must buy more F-22A Raptors to bridge the gap. He said that fighter inventories just can’t be cut much further.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.