The Joe Biden administration will seek $11 billion to buy 85 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 jets in the coming fiscal year, tracking a plan outlined last year by the Trump administration, according to a U.S. official.
With a $715 billion budget request for fiscal year 2022, the Pentagon had considered increasing the quantity of next-generation fighters it planned to buy but decided to instead focus on using additional funding to upgrade the F-35 with new capabilities every six months, the official said.
“It’s not unusual for a new administration’s first budget to change relatively little from its predecessor,” J.J. Gertler, a military aviation analyst for the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, said in an email. “But using the prior number for FY 22 adds fuel to the idea that the big changes for the program will come in ’23,” he said.
At an estimated cost of $398 billion, the F-35 is America’s biggest weapons program, a critical part of U.S. and allied efforts to upgrade their armed forces. Yet while the $715 billion defense budget number is public, the Pentagon hasn’t yet detailed how that will be spent and there is no formal release date yet from the Office of Management and Budget.
The Defense Department “will respond to questions on the specifics of the budget request after it is submitted,” Laura Seal, a spokeswoman for the department’s F-35 joint program office, said in an email.