US Future Fighter Plans In Freefall

(MENAFN- Asia Times) The US Air Force faces a budget battle over retiring F-22 Raptors and funding next-gen fighters, sparking debates on strategic priorities and future air dominance versus near-peer adversaries.

This month, Airforce technology reported that the US government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the USAF budget proposal for fiscal year 2023. The GAO stated that the USAF did not provide adequate data to congress regarding the implications of retiring older F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, particularly the Block 20 variants used for training.

Airforce Technology notes that
USAF operates 32 F-22 Block 20 fighters, not upgraded to the capability levels of the more advanced Block 30/35 models.

The GAO pointed out that the USAF's proposal lacked crucial details, such as alternative training methods without Block 20s or the potential benefits of upgrading these aircraft instead of retiring them.

Airforce Technology says Northrop Grumman estimated that upgrading the Block 20 aircraft to the Block 30/35 standard would cost at least $3.3 billion and take around 15 years. However, it notes that the USAF deemed this limited information sufficient for its purposes, in contrast to the GAO's recommendation for more comprehensive data to support decision-making.

Further, the publication mentions that the National Defense Authorization Act prohibits reducing the F-22 inventory. That stands in the way of the retirement of Block 20 aircraft until the secretary of the Air Force presents a detailed plan to Congress.


Asia Times

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