Fighter Fleet Spending to Soar

August 22, 1996

Fighter Fleet Spending to Soar

The Pentagon plans to replace its jet flighter fleet with a new generation of more agile, stealthier planes, raising spending on the fleet from its current level--the lowest in 50 years-- to its highest level ever.

The new generation of fighters includes three models: the F-22, to replace the Air Force's F-15; the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, to replace the Navy's F/A-18C/D; and the Joint Strike Fighter, a plane still in early stages of development that the Air Force, Navy, and Marines all want.

The development and construction of these new tactical warplanes would cost more than $300 billion, eventually raising the cost of annual defense procurements from $38 billion today to at least $60 billion by 2001.

The Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting Office have both warned the Pentagon's plans may interfere with balancing the federal budget. They further question the need for rebuilding the fighter fleet given the comparative weakness of the rest of the world's fleets and their air defense capabilities.

The Pentagon argues that current Russian and future European models are comparable to U.S. fighters. U.S. military planners say they must upgrade in order to stay ahead.

The Pentagon has already spent $15 billion on the F-22 and has earmarked nearly $5 billion this year for the development of all three new models.

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