On Monday, the US Air Force revealed its FY24 budget request of $215.1 billion, which is an increase of $9.4 billion (approximately 4.5%) over FY23 spending. This is as the service is seeking to retire dozens of its older F-22 Raptors fighter jets.

Since last year, the Air Force has publicly discussed its plans to decommission its most powerful air superiority aircraft, the F-22 Raptor, to make space for jets under development in the next-generation air dominance (NGAD) program.

Paving the Way for the Next Generation

Despite being relatively newer compared to the other aging jets (introduced in 2005), the F-22 has fewer units in inventory, and they are quite expensive to maintain and operate. Moreover, its design and avionics are also becoming increasingly dated; any efforts to modernize it would mean additional costs.

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees, on behalf of the Pentagon, are trying to retain 33 older Raptors that the Air Force wanted to retire in FY23.

F-22 in Europe
(Image source: DVIDS)

If reductions are approved, this would significantly cut the number of active F-22s from 185 to 153. Eventually, the service intends to retire 310 aircraft to make room and focus the budget on future capabilities, including sixth-generation stealth combat jets.

The billion-dollar budget allocation also seeks to boost the Air Force’s capacity to meet the outlined seven operational imperatives, including:

  • Resilient Space Order of Battle
  • Advanced Battle Management System
  • Moving Target Engagement
  • NGAD Family of Systems
  • Resilient Forward Basing
  • B-21 Long Range Strike Family of Systems
  • Transition to a Wartime Posture

You can check out the rest of the FY24 budgetary overview here.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told reporters during a Friday briefing that the outlined budget has considered “a reasonable balance between current-, midterm-, and longer-term investments, if you will, or capabilities.”