USAF Faces “Biggest Reduction” in F-35s

The Air Force’s F-35 fleet took the “biggest reduction” among programs that were raided to find $17 billion in cuts during the last weeks of the Fiscal 2017 budget build, Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord said at a press briefing today. The Air Force gave up five F-35As, and will buy only 43 of the fighters next year. The Marine Corps will buy 16 F-35Bs and the Navy just four F-35Cs. McCord said the hit on the F-35 unit costs from the reduced volume is “not expected to be significant,” and the production rate of the F-35 program has to be viewed within “the totality of the partners,” meaning the foreign buyers of the jet. McCord expressed concern about the program’s ability to deliver at needed rates, however. “It’s unclear that we’ll ever be able to get back up” to the “ramp,” or delivery schedule “we were hoping for,” he said. “We would have liked more.”