The Pentagon is set to ask for a reduced number of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters in its budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020). Instead of the previously planned 84, the US military is looking to cut back its request to 78 aircraft. Six fewer than originally planned.

According to a Bloomberg article, sources said that the request to acquire a lower number of the fifth-generation multi-role stealth aircraft comes as the United States Air Force (USAF) plans to acquire eight Boeing F-15X Advanced Eagles, which has the ability to carry more weapons (including hypersonic payloads) at the expense of stealth capability. The current plan is to acquire 80 of the F-15X fighters over five years, which is a setback for rival military contractor, Lockheed Martin.

The USAF is currently expected to stick with its plan of acquiring 48 F-35A Lightning IIs in FY2020, leaving the cuts to be covered by either the United States Marine Corps’ (USMC) F-35B short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) variant or the United States Navy’s (USN) F-35C carrier-borne variant.

A draft proposal of the FY2020 budget request is expected to make its way to Congress next week. Click here to learn more about the USAF’s planned procurement of the Boeing F-15X Advanced Eagle. More follows…

By Khalem Chapman [05/03/2019]