Jim McAleese, a consultant with close ties to the Air Force, said the service was counting on receiving $10 billion in additional funding as part of an expected $57 billion increase in the Pentagon's overall base budget for fiscal 2010 that begins Oct. 1 next year.
Work on a fleet of new refueling tankers, which the Air Force had named as its No. 1 acquisition priority, is expected to be delayed for at least a year. The Pentagon decided in September to redo the heated competition between Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp, which teamed up with
The No. 2 priority program, a $15 billion drive to buy new combat search and rescue helicopters, has also been delayed as the Air Force reviews competing bids from Boeing, Lockheed and Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp.
As a result, funding for both programs would likely remain under the 'research and development' heading for a while longer, letting the Air Force use its limited procurement dollars for more F-22s, McAleese said.
McAleese also says that the USAF will be content to buy 60 more F-22s, which would reduce their roughly eight-year-old requirement from 381 to 243.
I strongly doubt that the USAF will ever be so content. When the time comes to close production on the F-22 line in another three years, I expect to see another huge fight.