Air Force wants 14 more F-35s in latest wish list

Air Force wants 14 more F-35s in latest wish list
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The Air Force wants $10.7 billion in additional funding, more than half of which would be put toward more aircraft and readiness, according to its unfunded priorities list sent to lawmakers.

The list of priorities that weren't outlined in the Air Force fiscal 2018 budget request includes $6.7 billion for modernization and readiness needs, including $1.76 billion for 14 more Lockheed Martin-made F-35A joint strike fighters. The service’s fiscal 2018 request includes 46 of the aircraft.

“The Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) has forced us to make sacrifices as we balance readiness and modernization,” the Air Force writes in its justification for the F-35 ask.

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“This has slowed modernization of our 4th-generation aircraft. With increased funding, we would invest in these capabilities now to ensure they do not compete for funding with critical nuclear and space requirements in the out-years.”

The document, obtained by The Hill, lists $600 million for three additional Boeing-made KC-46 tankers to more quickly replace older legacy tankers, $1.2 billion for 12 MC-130J special operations tankers and $100 million for one additional HC-130J search and rescue aircraft, the latter two both made by Lockheed.

In addition, the Air Force wants $103 million for A-10 wings, $181 million for B-2 bomber modifications and $284.6 million to continue the EC-X Compass Call aircraft — including $117 million to buy one plane.

The service also wants $70 million for a prototype directed energy weapon able to knock out multiple digital electronic systems, describing the technology as “game changing.”

The list also included $772 million for space, $360 million for nuclear deterrence operations and $563 million for cybersecurity.

In addition, the Air Force asks for $363.3 million for its No. 1 priority: airmen equipment, training, instructors and sustainment. The service also wants $1.8 billion for infrastructure.

Congress asks for unfunded lists from each service on an annual basis. The documents help guide lawmakers as they work through the budget requests and form policy and spending bills.