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Pentagon budget 2025: US Air Force requests buying at least 90 aircraft and helicopters

The USAF intends to purchase 42 F-35s in FY2025, a lower number than FY 2024. An A-model aircraft is shown. (Lockheed Martin)

The US Air Force's (USAF's) fiscal year (FY) 2025 presidential budget request includes the acquisition of at least 90 aircraft and hundreds of missiles.

Aircraft lead the USAF procurement budget with 82 platforms listed in briefing materials, revealed on 11 March.

The procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35As leads with USD5.9 billion for 42 aircraft, down from the FY 2024 request of USD6.1 billion for 48 F-35s. The F-35A has suffered from technical problems, resulting in a hold on deliveries until the Technical Refresh 3 (TR3) software can be completed and tested. Despite delays and the lower FY 2025 procurement number, the USAF's programme of record remains unchanged and the service still intends to purchase over 1,700 F-35s.

USD3.1 billion โ€“ the same amount as FY 2024 -- is to be dedicated to purchasing 15 Boeing KC-46 tankers, which are to replace a roughly equal number of KC-135s being divested. Though the KC-46 has development troubles with its remote vision and refuelling systems, the service intends to purchase them through the late 2020s until a โ€˜bridge tanker' becomes available.

The service requested USD2.7 billion for low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the Northrop Grumman B-21 strategic bomber, up from USD2.3 billion requested in FY 2024. The number of aircraft this funding can procure is publicly unknown โ€“ much about the programme, including the number of LRIP aircraft and total intended production, is kept secret. The bomber is intended to replace the Boeing B-1 and Northrop Grumman B-2 as the USAF's primary penetrating strike aircraft.

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