F-22 Down, F-35 Stretched

The Pentagon’s latest Aircraft Procurement Plan states that the Air Force will keep its F-22 the “premier air-to-air fighter aircraft by spending $4.5 billion on modernization” over the next 10 years. Previous DOD estimates of that number—particularly when the Pentagon was pushing Congress to terminate F-22 production at 187 aircraft—said there was $7 billion programmed for F-22 enhancements. According to the plan, the Air Force will concentrate its procurement dollars on the F-35A, procuring 603 from Fiscal 2012 to Fiscal 2021. That leaves some 1,100 F-35s still to buy in the 2020s under USAF’s program of record for 1,763 units. The service also expects to recapitalize its long-range cargo and bomber aircraft in the 2020s (see below). (2011 Aircraft Procurement Plan) (For more background on the F-22 modernization, see The New Playbook from Air Force Magazine’s archives.)