When There Is a Will, There Is a Way:

The Air Force will figure out a way to buy 380 F-22s to meet its requirements, the Air Force’s top weapons developer said Feb. 13, according to press reports. Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, said during an appearance at a military conference in Washington, D.C., the Air Force is committed to buying 380 Raptors (the stated requirement is 381) and is assembling a budget plan that would make this possible. The F-22 currently has an OSD-imposed cap of 183, but the Air Force continues to make the case within the walls of the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill that it needs more. Carlson said getting the extra Raptors would be difficult, given the constraints on budgets, and that there would have to be some tradeoffs, such as potentially drawing on operations and maintenance and research and development accounts. One potential area of relief is in the works. USAF is making the pitch for an extra $20 billion on average per year over the next 20 year to drive a robust recapitalization and modernization initiative to reach a force structure of 86 modern combat wings. This extra topline includes dollars to cover most if not all of the additional Raptors, USAF officials have said. The Air Force has also asked for four Raptors in its Fiscal 2009 unfunded requirements list and seeks advanced procurement money next fiscal year for another 20 in the same list.