The United States military may be preparing to scale down its purchase plan for the controversial F-35 Lightning II due to built-in spending caps. At present, the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps will take add 2,457 of the stealthy, single-seat fighters to its fleet, at a cost of $391 billion, according to Defense One.
"Given the evolving defense strategy and the latest Defense Planning Guidance, we are presently taking the newest strategic foundation and analyzing whether 2,443 aircraft is the correct number," Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Obama administration's nominee for the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote as part of the remarks for his Senate confirmation hearing. "Until the analysis is complete, we need to pursue the current scheduled quantity buy to preclude creating an overall near-term tactical fighter shortfall."
But just because Gen. Dunford is talking about trimming the final figure doesn't mean he's opposed to the controversial fighter.
"With projected adversarial threats challenging our current capabilities in coming years, the Joint Strike Fighter is a vital component of our effort to ensure the Joint Force maintains dominance in the air," the general wrote. "If confirmed, I will advise the Secretary as he assesses the delicate balance of the capacity and the capabilities of the future Joint Force."
At present, the acquisition period for the F-35 is expected to span three decades, while Defense One reports that program's schedule would likely stick for the next 15 to 20 years.