Current Top Line F-35 number holds at 2443 according to Pentagon Official

The F-35 Lightning II

The current number of F-35’s to be purchased — the largest weapons program ever by many billions of dollars—is holding steady at 2,443 according to Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work.

Work noted in a letter to Senator John McCain (as reported by that: “The validated U.S. Department of Defense requirement for the F-35 program is currently 2,443 aircraft.”

This news is in contrast to what Gen. Joseph Dunford, the current Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing last July.

“Given the evolving defense strategy and the latest Defense Planning Guidance, we are presently taking the newest strategic foundation and analyzing whether 2,443 aircraft is the correct number,” Dunford wrote in response to pre-hearing questions.

“Until the analysis is complete, we need to pursue the current scheduled quantity buy to preclude creating an overall near-term tactical fighter shortfall.”

Chairman Joint Chiefs, General Joseph Dunford, USMC. Photo Courtesy: Reuters

The F-35 has suffered years of delay and billions of dollars in cost overruns, making it an easy target for Congressional adversaries and suffering from poor public perception. Public perception was so bad that Lockheed Martin and the DoD launched a 14 city “Get Well” tour earlier this year to tell the good news story about the program.