The largest procurement program in the Department of Defense (DOD), the F-35 Lightning II is a strike fighter aircraft being procured in different versions for the United States Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. Current DOD plans call for acquiring a total of 2,456 F-35s. Allies are expected to purchase hundreds of additional F-35s, and eight nations are cost-sharing partners in the program with the United States.
The F-35 promises significant advances in military capability. Like many high-technology programs before it, reaching that capability has put the program above its original budget and behind the planned schedule.
The Administration’s proposed FY2019 defense budget requested about $10.7 billion in procurement and R&D funding for the F-35 program. This would fund the procurement of 48 F-35As for the Air Force, 20 F-35Bs for the Marine Corps, 9 F-35Cs for the Navy, and continuing development.
FY2018 defense authorization act: The FY2018 defense authorization bill funded F-35 procurement at $9.9 billion for 90 aircraft (56 F-35As, 24 F-35Bs, and 10 F-35Cs, an increase of 20 aircraft and $2.4 billion from the Administration’s request), plus $1.5 billion in advance procurement, the requested level.
The conference report accompanying the bill included language:
authorizing economic order contracting for up to $661 million in parts for F-35s to be procured in fiscal years 2019 and 2020;
limiting funds to be expended on F-35 follow-on modernization (Block 4 software) pending a previously-required report that contains the basic elements of an acquisition program baseline for that modernization, and;
requiring the congressional defense committees be notified if Congress takes any action that would delay development of F-35 dual-capable aircraft (meaning those able to deliver nuclear weapons).
FY2018 defense appropriations bill: The final omnibus budget bill funded F-35 procurement at $10.2 billion for 90 aircraft (56 F-35As, 24 F-35Bs, and 10 F-35Cs, an increase of 20 aircraft and $2.6 billion over the Administration’s request), plus $1.5 billion in advance procurement, the requested level.
Click here for the full report (39 PDF pages) hosted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists.