The Air Force publicly confirmed on March 28 that it intends to buy a much smaller number of F-35 fighters in 2023 than previously planned. It says it still intends to eventually buy 1,763 of the stealthy fighters, but at the proposed rate for next year, that would take half a century. Congress will have something to say about all this. Here are five questions Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall should be ready to answer when budget hearings are held: (1) Why slash your most important military aircraft program during a war? (2) Why cut the one aircraft that every overseas partner seems to want? (3) Why trim a program that is over-delivering on price and performance? (4) Why buy more outdated combat aircraft while buying fewer new ones? (5) Why damage a domestic manufacturing base that is already struggling– especially on the eve of midterm elections? I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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