F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (Courtesy U.S. Air Force)

Washington – Connecticut’s congressional delegation on Wednesday asked the Pentagon to drop plans to cut the number or F-35’s built in the next federal fiscal year.

At a cost of about $8 billion, the  Pentagon is expected to request 78 F-35s, which are built by Lockheed Martin. That’s down from the 84 fighter jets the Defense Department had  projected for 2020.

The engine for the F-35, called the F135, is built by Pratt & Whitney.

But the Pentagon’s reduction of six Joint Strike Fighters in its latest budget request isn’t the end of the story. Congress must approve the Pentagon’s budget, and usually puts its own stamp on it.

This year, for instance, Congress appropriated $9.34 billion for 93 F-35s, 16 more than the Pentagon requested. The year before, lawmakers added 20 F-35s to the Pentagon’s request.

Still, the Connecticut congressional delegation wrote to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan asking him to go back to his original projection of 84 fighter jets for 2020.

“Cutting our only fifth generation fighter jet for any military service would be a mistake, and we urge you to reconsider this decision or provide immediate justification for this potential cut,” delegation members wrote Shanahan.

They also said “the F135 engine is the most powerful propulsion system and most advanced engine developed for a fighter aircraft,” and that the F-35 program “employs over 11,000 Connecticut constituents directly and indirectly–with 78 first-tier suppliers and other statewide suppliers that provide parts to primes.”

The Pentagon’s budget request will also ask for eight new “advanced” F-15 jets—to be used by the Air Force and the Air National Guard. Those fighter jets are built by Boeing, whose engines are made by General Electric.

The Pentagon’s request for the F-15s would be the first since 2001, and some believe a mix of the new  F-15s and the F-35s would save money.

The new F-15s, which are not “stealthy” like the F-35s, would likely fly low-risk homeland-defense patrols over the United States. With their stealth features, the F-35s would deploy overseas for major combat against high-tech enemies.

The White House is expected to release part of its 2020 budget request next week, and the rest of its budget request the week after.

The Pentagon is expected to ask Congress for  $750 billion, an increase over the $733 billion requested last year.

That budget would exceed spending caps, but the White House plans to boost the amount of money requested for the overseas contingency operation funds, and is a separate pot of money the Defense Department usually uses solely to conduct wars, that is not subject to budget caps.

President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget is also expected to cut money from domestic programs.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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  1. I’m sure the CT Democrats have a strong case to make after blocking the administration’s request for funding for the porous southern border.

  2. Yes, by all means let’s NEVER cut a dime from our bloated war budget. God forbid that money actually went to rebuild our crumbling country. 800 military bases in over 70 countries and we are very far down the path that every previous and now extinct empire has traveled. “Healthcare? How are you going to pay for it?” “Education? Where’s the money going to come from?” Just ask for money to fill more graves and the vultures line up for dinner.

    1. We can certainly argue about this size of our defense budget. However, unlike all the social programs and free stuff handed out like popcorn in this country, the defense of our nation is a constitutional requirement. The country is going broke largely to fund the social entitlements and borrowing that will only continue to grow as the free stuff crowd demands more and the voters elect them to office.

  3. The hypocrite Democrats are against the bloated military budget until it affects their state. The F-35 is an absurd waste of money for clunker that does nothing well and is costing trillions.

  4. I don’t know what it is about the lawmakers, legislators, and managers of Connecticut taxpayers but the one thing that has been made VERY clear to me since moving here is the general incompetence of these self-serving zealots. Legislators CONTINUE to pass BAD LAWS, ignore good ones (all for their own self-serving needs) and mandate unenforceable policy to satiate special interests and stack votes for their own re-election.
    The F-35 is a bloated, piece of crap plagued by software bugs and hardware flaws whose on-going fixes are continuously being paid for by the U.S. taxpayer ON TOP of the staggering cost of being the most expensive weapon system in human history. The F-35 has missed most, if not ALL development milestones in it’s painful history and has FAILED in it’s benchmark mission of basic (and advanced) fighter maneuvering (BFM / AFM) as proven by a leaked report written by an F-35 test pilot / evaluator. Blumenthal, et al. know better than to encourage more waste of money on this flying lemon. They should be ashamed but, as I’ve come to learn, that is politics in good ‘ol Connecticut.

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