The chairman of the House Appropriations defense panel told The Hill late last week that he is “leaning toward” recommending additional funding in the 2010 defense appropriations bill to keep F-22 Raptor production going beyond the 187 aircraft the Pentagon wants. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) had told defense reporters last month that he backed continuing advance procurement, but he didn’t expect it to be an easy sell despite strong Congressional backing. Even as Murtha’s panel began its markup of the defense spending measure, the full Senate began its consideration of the 2010 defense policy bill, with two influential Senators adding an amendment to block any additional F-22 funds (see above). Still, joining Murtha in support is the other key money guy, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its defense panel. Inouye would like to extend the F-22 to keep open the possibility to permit foreign military sales.
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.