Adm. Michael Mullen says the decision to terminate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s alternate engine program—a decision that prompted Congress to hold special hearings this week—was a joint decision between the Navy and the Air Force. (OK, but according to Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, the idea originated with the Navy.) Mullen believes that technological advances obviate the need for an alternate engine source. He maintains that the reliability and economics added up to a savings of approximately $2 billion—the amount awarded to the alternate team of GE-Rolls Royce.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.