F-35, Flying Hours Top Air Force’s Wish List Under Potential New Budget

F-35, Flying Hours Top Air Force’s Wish List Under Potential New Budget

The Air Force’s top uniformed acquisition leader said the service would prioritize adding funds to readiness and training accounts and fully fund its initial production lot of F-35 aircraft should $3 to $7 billion get returned to the Air Force’s budget as part of the bipartisan budget deal passed by the House Thursday.

“This is still in flux and being worked by the comptroller and Congress. There were a lot of things that we had in our budget that we had cut as a result of planning for sequestration that we would then start to buy back,” Lt. Gen. Charles Davis,  Military Deputy for Air Force Acquisition, told Miltiary​.com.

The bipartisan deal, now making its way through the Senate, would add roughly $22 billion back to the top line for defense spending above sequester levels for fiscal year 2014 and $9 billion back for fiscal year $2015, Pentagon officials said.

Each of the services stand to get anywhere from $3 to $7 billion in appropriated funds for fiscal year 2014, allowing them the opportunity to make new plans and reverse some of the consequences of sequestration. Davis said the Air Force is examining which accounts would receive additional funds.

“Big chunk of that starts with readiness, flying hours for squadrons and the major training activities such as the Red Flag exercises which are critically important to the Air Force. That is where we would initially start buying back if we got $3 or $4 billion back,” Davis said. “There will be other things that we had to cut to create efficiencies whether its munitions buys or fully funding the production lot for the F-35. The F-35 is 17– to 18-percent of our budget, so we’ve got a list that we are working on.”

The Air Force budget request for fiscal year 2014 asks for $3.4 billion for F-35 procurement and roughly $800 million in research, development, test and evaluation for the aircraft.

Defense spending under sequestration was capped at $475 billion – and the new bipartisan topline deal now calls for roughly $497 billion in defense spending for fiscal year 2014.

The automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, specify that roughly $487 billion will be cut from defense spending over a ten year period. While the  top line budget deal could reduce the sequestration cuts in 2014 and 2015, there are still questions about 2016 and beyond.

Budget uncertainties have made it difficult for service leaders to make long term acquisition plans. Completing 5-year spending plans called Program Objective Memorandums have been especially challenging as the military operates under Continuing Resolutions.

The Air Force has identified the F-35, its new long-range strike bomber program, or LRS-B and the KC-46 tanker program as its top acquisition priorities.

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Did he just say what I think he said? “The F-35 is 17– to 18-percent of our budget…”

The Air Force consumes its fair share of the DoD budget in comparison to the other services, but 17–18 percent for any one thing is obscene.

Is this the same General Davis who testified to Congress that F-35 was going to be a ~37M aircraft?

That’s 17–18 percent of the AF’s acquisition budget, not the total DoD budget. How can $4.2 billion from a $475 billion budget be ‘obscene’?

At least half of what they want is worth the money being spent. I’m all for the training and readiness efforts.

Ashton Carter, General Bogdan and General Welsh need to be fired immediately. Stealth is DEAD, TACOM, TLAM, UAV’s, and SATCOM can deliver high detonation ordnance to any point on the Globe for < 4 Million. Yet we continue to Fund JSF… while our disabled and retired Beg for housing and funds. Wall Street and Lockheed Martin fleece America yet again.

Ashton Carter, General Bogdan and General Welsh need to be fired immediately. Stealth is DEAD, TACOM, TLAM, UAV’s, and SATCOM can deliver high detonation ordnance to any point on the Globe for < 4 Million. Yet we continue to Fund JSF… while our disabled and retired Beg for housing and funds. Wall Street and Lockheed Martin fleece America yet again.

You want to save Tax and funding.… Repeal JSF/F-35. $168 Million a Copy times 2600 platforms with numerous Hardware and Software issues with little or no capability e.g. “No internal Gun” for Air-Air on 2 of 3 variants. JSF/F-35 Block IV (If developed) will have less Capability than the F-15SE, F-16 Block 51, 52, 60, and F/A-18E/F and EA-18G. This platform is Worthless. JSF is schedule to IOC in 2021, 26 Years after start of development in 1995. It is now working obsolescence issues. Ashton Carter and General Welsh need to be fired immediately. This Platform is nothing more than a Giant Money Machine for Lockheed Martin and the Texas Senators.

You’re surprised that the AIR FORCES #1 acquisition and expense is an aircraft? Really?

what does it take to be a general in the air force, apparently not much.….

I don’t see the problem. The USAF spending 17% of their budget on planes? What an astounding concept.


It should have been scrapped a decade ago before we’d spent the money that we already have. Can’t back out now otherwise we’ll be left with just a 120+ F-22’s when the Chinese and Russians will have hundreds/thousands more stealth fighters.

Continue on with the F-35 (unfortunately), there’s no other option, but spend away on other viable methods such as lasers, etc.

ps. you’re right on the gun though, G.Allen. They should be refitting them asap.

How clueless can you be? Stealth is not “dead” nor is it something that can be killed. The laws of physics are constant, a design with a large radar cross section will be detected by radar before a design with a small one.

You don’t just cancel a program with no alternatives. The price tag you reference is not set in stone and can easily be brought down provided there are competent people somewhere in charge. It will inevitably come down to some degree (as it already have since the days of people claiming $200+ million an aircraft) due to production volume as well.

As far as I know the Navy choose to go without the internal gun on the F-35C for some odd reason. Of course getting a F-22 or F-35 into a gun-fight is incredibly foolish and throws away the greatest advantage of these aircraft. Your remarks about capability are way off target, there is no such thing as a Block 51 F-16 either. IOC for the F-35A is planned for 2016, not 2021.

17%-18% of the budget on ONE plane, smartass. The numbers built of the Air Force variant haven’t even reached 50 yet. That’s pretty unique for any one weapon system.

Don’t know what this guy did to deserve such a comment but all of the services suffer from having too many generals or admirals. Hell, I think we have more admirals than ships these days. I doubt the problem is going to get better anytime soon either. Obama has been firing ranking officers left and right and God only knows what sort of politically-motivated types will take their place.

Look BlackOwl, I’m no supporter of the F-35 program and the way that it was designed. I think that it should have been divided into at least three separate projects at the beginning. But we aren’t developing a toaster here and 17–18% of the budget isn’t a magic line that makes it a level of inappropriate spending.

The USAF is spending 17–18% of its budget on one plane — where does it say that this is an impermissible level of expenditure?


Because the men who where made of steel and iron resolve that helped defend and carved out this nation are being replaced by the politically correct golden voiced do nothings.

Too bad that the F-35 (by design requirement) is too weak to take on emerging threats, and too expensive to own and operate for lesser threats handled by current, fielded aircraft.

I’m an old retired Army Infantry and don’t know much about fast mover except to know low level CAS is wonderful when needed. I recall the MacNamara TFX which was supposed to do all wonder aircraft of its day. If I recall correctly it became the the F-111 and did a decent job as bomber but not as the Wiz Kid Wonder Plane. The F-35 seems to be today’s version of the TFX. Questions: Can it really do anything really well? Is it an air superiority fighter capable of replacing the F-15, F-16, F-18? Do the Marines really need VTOL aircraft for ground support operations in forward areas? Will the F-35 actually replace the A-10 for CAS? Is the F-35 really wonder plane?

Spot on 18E!, no way around tryin’ 2 explain the amount of resources expended for this aircraft!

I never said that the percentage crossed any imaginary line. You’re the one suggesting it. I never even asked whether or not you supported the F-35 so I don’t know why you feel the need to tell me that.

I know that the F-35 isn’t a toaster, but when 17–18% percent of the USAF budget is going to a plane that STILL hasn’t proven that it can perform anywhere near its promised performance levels that is unique, STILL has no working combat systems, and STILL has not shown solid evidence of when of even if it will produce a combat ready aircraft. It’s even more unique when that number of poor performing airplanes is so expensive that they haven’t been able to make over 50 of them beyond a decade after the service contract was won. I’m merely pointing out that the F-35 is unique from any other weapons system in this regard and it is breaking records, but NOT the good kind. This new information actually makes the F-35 program look really bad.

“Guest”: this dumb ole airborne combat engineer ground pounder thinks the Air Force, DOD & American taxpayer have been hoodwinked by what GEN/POTUS Ike warned us about!.…no more hogs for CAS & this $168millionUSD/per copy bird is going down low & slow 2 complete that mission!, with a GAU-22 w/182 rounds 4 the “A” variant” or 220 rounds 4 the B/C variant? I gotta bridge 4 sale in Brooklyn. If anyones interested.….…needs alot of refitting, has structural problems, requires an enormous workforce, just to keep it standing.…..I hope I’m wrong on this one. Having spent so much money on a project, we can’t turn back now has become our procurement policy???? no longer the days of performance based capabilities?????

BlackOwl — I suspect that we are arguing over semantics because you and I are on the same side of this arguement. That’s why I included my non-support of the F-35 just in the hope that you would see that we are standing together opposed to how this program has been designed from the beginning.

I agree that they still haven’t shown that they will be able to produce a combat ready craft. I’m in total concurrence that 50 incomplete planes after 10+ years is a disturbing sign. And that this design team is breaking bad records.

It’s just that I don’t think that spending 17–18% on one plane is NECESSARILY a sign that something is wrong. A highly complex plane like the F-35 with all those disparate features forced into a single design is going to run up costs rapidly, It’s a bad decision to include the “hover” landing feature in a plane when the AF won;t need that feature at all.

You;re basically right on BlackOwl and I apologize for nitpicking over a minor part of your comment,


William, IOC for the Marines F-35A is planned for 2016, and the Marines are still saying that’s the date it will happen on. But it won’t! Not a chance. If you haven’t already looked at it, then this major article is mandatory reading and I think that you’ll be fascinated;


Everyone should read the Vanity Fair article. Assuming it is as accurate as it appears, it seems unlikely the F-35 will meet foreseeable defense needs. All F-35 costs to date are sunk, not recoverable under reasonable estimates. $Billions sunk, little return. Stop chasing bad decisions and stop this F-35 madness now.

…quick name a weapons system in use today that wasn’t plagued with problems when envisioned and rolled, out, and that many people didn’t condemn before it went into service and proved itself after having the kinks worked out. Yeah, me neither.

Only the Marine Corps variant of the plane is having the VTOL feature

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet? Little controversy and it arrived on time, on budget, and above specs. That’s the first thing that comes to mind as it was recent, and fills largely similar roles. I could list quite a bit more if needed, though. There was a time (and it still happens outside the US) when contracting wasn’t a complete and utter mess.

watch it bud, lots of generals around (usaf) .…

Actually there was some scathing criticism about the Super Hornet written when it was first introduced. It was argued that it didn’t do any better than the classic Hornet and was inferior to the F-14D or proposed new Tomcat variants.

I was going to touch on the Hornet Vs. Tomcat arguments, but the initial design was not for replacement of the F-14 in the FDI role. It initially grew out of a need to replace the A-6 and A-7. The argument comparing the old Hornet Vs. Super Hornet has… less merit.

look air superiority is the most important thing in a war.….17% is nothing..should have 2x as many f-35s.. considering it will replace every plane

No and No.

Weak argument when you take the time to inform yourself about the massive amounts of incompetence in the management of this program; which obviously you have not done.

What about the Virginia class SSN’s? Not much controversy there (a lot less expensive than the Seawolf variants), very capable, and one of the few programs that is delivering on-time, and on-budget.

If you want air superiority, or better yet air dominancce, buy more F-22s. F-35 is a ground pounder (carrying only 2 MK series weapons in a stealth configuration) that was not intended for the air dominance role. Does it have air-to-air capability, yes but in very limited quantitites. 4 AIM-120 internally and you are done. Interestingly the Air Force has advertised a 4–1 kill ratio over advanced air threats with F-35 and many scenarios result in being outnumbered 4–1. Then you take into account the missile Pk and things may get interesting. Please note that the adversaries are also likely calculating >1 kill ratios against F-35.

Long stary short — If you want to own the skies more F-22s or a new F-X is needed.

Quick, name another program that has stretched longer in schedule or increased more in cost than the F-35.

Nice Rand reports to the Air Force on how the F-35 life cycle cost savings is not materializing:

Conclusion is to avoid joint programs like F-35 in the future. I guess we were too stupid to realize that in 2001 when the F-35 SDD started. Well 12 years of this program makes it much more convincing I’d say.

Holy fucking shit I may be agreeing with you on everything but that first part.

This has not happened before I believe.

People that mention that no aircraft comes in on time under budget and working are missing the picture.

The F-35 is the stealthy equivalent of a very fragile super expensive…A-6. According to what I have been told the F-35 doesn’t need dog fighting skills because it will use its super network ability to fire missiles (which will never be lead astray or get jammed) to precisely take out all aircraft that come before it can come into weapons range.

Ah its stealth. We know there are multiple ways to detect stealth aircraft. One is simply a powerful enough radar. Our Aegis destroyers and cruisers have been able to detect pretty much every stealth aircraft we have made. The Chinese have a equivalent to the Aegis system. Not only this but there are systems that using tech in the 50’s in combination with modern radar can break through all of that LO tech.

There there is one of the key problems. Expense. These were supposed to be really cheaper and easier to maintain and to fly compared to current birds.……and they are quite a bit more expensive. Which means less flight hours.

I have no problem with Stealth Fighters. What I have a problem with is the present Super weapon fetish and the obsession with having all top end fighters in a ever shrinking military. We are basing almost the entirety of the US air power on a single platform.…That is Hubris.

The F-35B is meant to be STOVL actually, not VTOL, but this requirement has handicapped the performance of the A and C versions as well. Dr. Dave is right when he says that the B should have been a separate program. It could have had shared avionics to leverage some level of commonality, but this quest (dare I say crusade) for commonality at all cost is the root cause of the unfortunate situation we now find ourselves in on this program.

A fitting epitaph.

Hubris? Possibly. There’s plenty of naive fools at the five-sided funny farm. I can’t help but also wonder how much corruption might be involved in this fiasco of a program. Hubris alone seems inadequate as a full explanation. But maybe that’s my own hubris.

Not corruption. Politics is there.

The companies and states have spent Billions getting the factories built in their states, Hired thousands of people, and promised JOBS in return for!.….….…..Votes.

Yep Democracy bitches.

In return the Politician pushes for whatever he has to.

Military-Industrial Complex doesn’t exist. It’s all governed by the US taxpayer (or non payer) and how they vote. Its Legal vote buying.

who u replyin’ 2?

spot on..& if we went back to the “old” way of buildin’ nuc subs, we could probably save another 20–30 million/boat!

Its all a show for us to argue over while the REAL power brokers, the lobbyists laugh all the way to the bank

G. Allen.….I was amazed at your flawless skills on correct Air Power needs for the Air Force. May I ask where o acquired all this flawless skills? Our Country sure could have used your expertise a decade ago as well, where were you hiding then, how about 2 decades ago? I’ll bet you also have all kinds of secret War Plans for Our future, hidden in your brief case of knowledge? Guess wit you on watch, we can all sit back and relax now can’t we???


Sure the General’s want new F-35’s. Why? So, in a couple of years, they go to work for Lock Heed Martin
as Vice Presidents. A law should be passed that no retired General officer can work for any firm that sells military
equipment to the government., That would stop all this military nonsense. Bill (Retired E-9)

so we are having a grizzle about the cost of about 40 planes…I can’t wait to see the screams when it’s about 150 planes a year

unless you are killing goat farmers, there is no slow and low in the modern battlespace where the other side has jets or various sams. involved,
It’s almost if you can’t send a chopper, you can’t send a hog

Weaponhead , it;s been reassessed, it’s now 6 to 1 against red air, as per 2013 statement to gov.

any corruption and jobs for the boys etc would happen anyway, regardless of what plane won the contract, wouldn’t it? I can’t see much difference between Boeing, LM and the US politicians


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