Frank Kendall, secretary of the Air Force and a three-time Wash100 Award winner, said the service still sticks to its plan to purchase a total of 1,763 Lockheed Martin-built F-35 fighter jets despite its decision to reduce procurement of the aircraft in its fiscal year 2023 budget request, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
“The numbers come back up” after 2023, Kendall said. “We are not changing the goal.”
The Air Force previously planned to buy 48 F-35s but decided to cut 15 units from its requested FY 2023 budget due to delays in Block 4 software upgrades and the need to reprogram funds to support the “Next Generation Air Dominance” fighter and a new aircraft engine program.
Kendall noted that the service is “15 years into production and we’ll be building F-35s probably another 15 years.”
The Department of Defense originally planned to purchase 94 F-35s but decided to reduce it to 61 aircraft for the coming fiscal year. DOD requested $11 billion in funding to procure 33 F-35s for the Air Force, 13 for the Navy and 15 for the Marine Corps.