Report to Congress on the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

May 4, 2022 9:49 AM

The following is the May 2, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program.

From the report

The largest procurement program in the Department of Defense (DOD), the F-35 Lightning II is a strike fighter aircraft being procured in different versions for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. Current DOD plans call for acquiring a total of 2,456 F-35s. Allies are expected to purchase hundreds of additional F-35s, and eight nations are cost-sharing partners in the program with the United States.

The F-35 promises significant advances in military capability. Like many high-technology programs before it, reaching that capability has put the program above its original budget and behind the planned schedule.

The Administration’s proposed FY2022 defense budget requested about $9.4 billion in procurement funding for the F-35 program. This would fund the procurement of 48 F-35As for the Air Force, 17 F-35Bs for the Marine Corps, 20 F-35Cs for the Navy and Marines, advance procurement for future aircraft, and continuing modifications. The proposed budget also requested about $2.1 billion for F-35 research and development.

FY2022 defense authorization act: The FY2022 defense authorization bill funded F-35 procurement at $8.7 billion for 85 aircraft (48 F-35As, 17 F-35Bs, and 20 F-35Cs, the numbers requested by the Administration.) The joint explanatory statement accompanying the bill included language

  • limiting the number of F-35s that could be procured based on the cost of operating and maintaining them;
  • transferring responsibility for the F-35 program from the joint program office under DOD to the military services;
  • requiring the Secretary of Defense to investigate, assess, and implement corrective actions for the F-35 breathing system;
  • requiring the Air Force and Navy to submit acquisition strategies for advanced F-35 engines; and
  • directing the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct an annual review of F-35 sustainment efforts.

FY2022 defense appropriations bill: The version of the FY2022 Department of Defense appropriations bill introduced in the House (H.R. 4432) funded F-35 procurement at $8.5 billion, plus $745 million in advance procurement for 85 aircraft (48 F-35As, 17 F-35Bs, and 20 F-35Cs), the requested numbers of aircraft and $.2 billion below the Administration’s request. The advance procurement amount represented a decrease of $73 million from the request. The report accompanying the bill (H.Rept. 117-88) included language providing for modification of two F-35s per variant to a test configuration.

The version reported to the Senate by the Senate Appropriations Committee (S. 3023) also funded 85 aircraft in the quantities requested, for $8.4 billion, plus $818 million in advance procurement, the requested amount.

The explanatory statement accompanying the bill (available at included language criticizing the F-–35 Continuous Capability Development and Delivery program, denying the requested increases except for C2D2 test and evaluation. Further, the committee directs that with submission of the FY2023 budget request, the C2D2 program be reported as a separate Major Defense Acquisition Program.

Download the document here.

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