According to comments attributed to a senior US Air Combat Command official at an international fighter conference in London last week, the current Lockheed F-35 procurement plan could prove unaffordable, and another fighter wing of F-15s, F-16s or perhaps even F/A-18s is being considered to supplement the current fleet – which will serve into the 2040s as F-35s are delivered.
The air force is seeking 1,763 F-35As through 2038, and in the interim it intends to modernise and upgrade its F-16s and F-15s with new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars and electronic warfare systems.
The conventional take-off and landing F35A-model costs just shy of $100 million per aircraft, but LaPlante says the F-35 joint programme office and the Lockheed industry team are trying to reduce that to $85 million as the manufacturing process matures.
The air force has budgeted for 44 F-35s in fiscal year 2016 and 48 in 2017, and is building toward a production cadence of 60 jets per year by 2018 and then 80 beyond 2020.
SOURCES- Flight Global