The US Air Force is taking a bold new step towards modernizing its fighter fleet by officially requesting Congress to fund the purchase of 72 fighter jets –its highest desired goal yet. 

The request comes as the service seeks to replace aging planes like its F-15C, and general planning for future needs indicates this won’t be an isolated incident in years to come.

After years of falling short of its desired annual procurement rate for fighter aircraft, the US Air Force said that requesting Congress to provide enough funding in their subsequent budget request for at least 72 fighter aircraft yearly is necessary for the replacement and modernization of its aging planes, especially with the upgrades needed to ensure success against the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

Should this goal be met, the upgrade would be for the Air Force’s existing technologies and replacing retired models with newer ones more capable of meeting modern standards.

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.

Not the Last Budgetary Request

This year, for the first time since I’ve been in this business, there are 72 new fighters in the Air Force’s budget,” Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans Programs Lieutenant General Richard Moore said in an online forum hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “We’re super excited about that. I certainly think you’ll see it again.”

The Air Force makes its first lobby for advancing its fighter jets, which is needed to modernize its existing fleets and upgrade aging aircraft like F-15Cs that will likely retire soon. 

Moore also noted that shortfalls in approved budgets had been expected when comparing desired goals with Congressional approval numbers over the past years.

In its Fiscal 2024 budget, the US Air Force presented an unprecedented investment in fighter jets: including F-35As and F-15EX Eagle IIs.