Air Force Asks for 4,400 More Airmen, New F-15EX Fighter in Budget Request | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Air Force Asks for 4,400 More Airmen, New F-15EX Fighter in Budget Request

The U.S. Air Force is hoping to grow its total force by 4,400 airmen, add a new fighter to its inventory, and pump more money into weapon sustainment and ongoing research programs, such as the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber project, according to the service's fiscal 2020 budget request.

As anticipated, the Air Force will officially ask to fund eight brand-new F-15EX fourth-plus generation fighters at a cost of $1.05 billion to gradually begin replacing its older F-15C/D Eagle fleet, the budget documents reveal. Service officials recently disclosed the Air Force needs to boost its fighter inventory, but it had not expected to do so with an F-15X variant.

"We remain committed to the F-35 and its game-changing capabilities … [but the budget] balances readiness and modernization in the near-term by procuring eight F-15EX aircraft to refresh our [current] F-15 fleet, allowing us to benefit from foreign partner investments in the F-15 line," said Air Force Maj. Gen. John Pletcher. Pletcher, the deputy assistant secretary for budget at the Air Force's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Management and the Comptroller at the Pentagon, briefed reporters Tuesday.

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