Military Officials Debate Nation’s Need for Expensive Fighters

May 22, 2009

The U.S. Navy has requested more money for fewer aircraft compared to last year’s budget wish list, which has some lawmakers and military officials concerned over the spending on military aircraft.

"We can no longer afford unaffordable programs," said Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss), Seapower and Expeditionary Forces subcommittee Chairman.  "I believe it is time to step back and build what we know works, make it better if and when we can, and get the capability to the sailor and Marine who need it today, not 10 years from now."

The growing length of the so-called "fighter gap" has left some military officials and lawmakers scratching their heads as to whether or not the government needs to purchase so many aircraft.  Specifically, the 2010 Navy aviation budget proposal stands $4.6 billion over the 2009 proposed budget, even though there are 20 fewer aircraft to be built.

The Navy is expected to begin using the F-35 Lightning II in 2012, and some military leaders have come forward and said the Navy will be just fine waiting a couple of years for the expensive next-generation aircraft.  The Navy requested two different F-35 fighters, including the F-35 B fighter that is designed for short take-offs and vertical landings that will be used for the Marine Corps.

It’s expected the Navy will receive its first F-35 C sometime this summer, if all goes according to plan.

Although there have been calls to reduce military spending, there is also growing concern over the millions of repairs invested into the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighter jets.  The 2010 aviation budget includes almost $280 million for continuous upgrades that will continue to increase until the JSF is ready for deployment.

Even though Navy officials won’t say how long the strike fighter gap will be, they’ve launched an internal investigation and hope to have their findings ready sometime this fall.

This post has been written by Michael Barkoviak on May 21, 2009 5:22 PM couresy of


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