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The F-35 is the Air Force’s top-of-the-line fighter jet, but how many do they need and how many can they afford?

  • Valerie Insinna, Air Warfare Reporter at Defense News, said the Air Force would buy all of the approximately 1,700 F-35s in the program of record if it had unlimited funds but that other weapons priorities, including a new stealth bomber, will require tradeoffs.
  • Insinna said the Defense Department is conducting studies on the optimal mix of fighters to beat a near-peer competitor like China or Russia.
  • Insinna said she thinks affording all of the F-35s will be “a real struggle” and that some “drastic moves” may need to happen to reduce operation and sustainment costs.

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