The Air Force would get two F-15EX jets in 2022, six more in 2023, and a total of 80 planes over the next five years. Separately, the 2020 budget plan includes $949 million for F-15 upgrades. The decision to buy more F-15s was made by the Pentagon’s Cost and Program Evaluation office, or CAPE, and was backed by former Defense Secretary James Mattis
The Air Force has justified its intention to buy new F-15s as a method to sustain fighter capacity, despite its long-held position of investing solely in fifth-generation fighter technology, given the aging of the F-15C fleet and the slow pace of F-35 acquisitions.
While the Air Force insists that purchasing F-15EXs will not reduce the need for 1,763 F-35s, history and the Air Force’s own budget proposal indicate otherwise. The 2020 budget submission shows the Air Force buying 24 fewer F-35s over the next five years compared to last year’s plan.
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