A bipartisan group of 99 House lawmakers agreed to increase the U.S. military’s fleet of F-35 fighter aircraft to reduce maintenance cost and address growing threats of other countries’ missile systems and stealth fighters, Defense News reported Monday.
The Joint Strike Fighter Caucus sent a letter to House leaders calling for 12 additional F-35As and 12 F-35Bs for President Trump’s 2020 budget request. If approved, the budget would fund the military’s acquisition of 102 new fighter jets. Rep. John Larson, D-Conn.,Martha Roby, R-Ala., Marc Veasey, D-Texas, and Mike Turner, R-Ohio, led the group in the call for new jets.
The lawmakers said the fleet expansion would reduce overall F-35 costs, ensure the country’s air dominance, support overseas missions and the economy.
“In fact, as global threats continue to rise, the Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2020 budget request, which includes funding for 78 F-35s – 15 less than Congress appropriated in fiscal year 2019 – leaves the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps with a capability gap that 4th Generation, or legacy, aircraft cannot fulfill,” the letter reads.
However, Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office have announced manufacturing defects found on the jets. In September, DoD suspended the delivery of the new F-35 to fix production errors.