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Pentagon budget 2023: USAF places additional aircraft, munitions on its wish list

The USAF has more F-35 jets on its wish list for Congress. (US Air Force)

The US Air Force (USAF) has told Congress it could use additional dollars for more F-35 Lightning II fighters, hypersonic weapons testing, and munitions if the funds are available in fiscal year (FY) 2023, according to the service's unfunded priority list obtained by Janes .

The service said it could use an additional USD921 million to buy seven more Lockheed Martin F-35A conventional variant fighters to add to its official request for 33 fighters.

An additional USD979 million could also be used to buy four EC-37 Compass Call aircraft, and four spare engines, to bring its total fleet size to 10. This fleet is based around the used Gulfstream G550 business jets that are then converted into electronic warfare (EW) aircraft.

Further, the service would like USD276 million to support the Small Diameter Bomb II production capability. The money would be used to reduce materiel shortages and for software development to “improve existing system capabilities and insert new capabilities”, according to the request.

Hypersonic weapons have been a top emerging technology for the US Department of Defense (DoD) in recent years, with the services working on their respective efforts. The USAF, for example, is pursuing several projects including the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) programme, the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) programme, and the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) programme.

On its wish list, the service said it could use an additional USD197 million above its official request, for hypersonic testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California and at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

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