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07:25 AM, March 20, 2019
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Boeing F-15X fighter and Lockheed F-35 fighter

The United States Air Force (USAF) will purchase 18 Boeing F-15X upgraded jets up from 8; and 48 Lockheed Martin F-35 jets down from 54 annually, according to its new five-year defense hardware procurement plan announced Monday.

Starting next year, the USAF plans to procure 18 F-15X jets for $7.8 billion. It will now invest $37.5 billion on 48 Lockheed F-35 annually, until 2023. The Air Force has also dedicated $18 billion on Lockheed Martin F-22 fighter's upgrade and support, bloombergquint reported Tuesday.

The US Department of Defense decided to acquire more Boeing jets than previously planned partly because it’s “slightly less expensive for procurement than the F-35, but it’s more than 50 percent cheaper to operate over time and it has twice as many hours in terms of how long it lasts.”

Apart from fighters, the USAF will invest $20 billion for five years on Northrop Grumman B-21 stealth bomber.

It will also procure 66 Boeing KC-46 tankers, that is 9 lesser than the old plan. The new plan calls for 15 in 2021 but 12 each in 2022 and 2023, instead of the 15 previously planned each year.

The USAF will spend $8.7 billion on precision-guided weapons made by Lockheed, Boeing and Raytheon. That includes $1.4 billion on the new Small Diameter Bomb-II that can attack both fixed and moving targets in bad weather, $2 billion for the GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition and $2.2 billion on the extended-range stealth Jassm missile used last year against Syrian military targets.

Acquiring space systems will cost another $12.4 billion. Research on the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared early-warning satellite would total $11.4 billion through 2024.

Air Force spending on setting up and running the new Space Force is budgeted at about $72 million annually.

Space investments for fiscal 2020 include $1.67 billion for space launch and ground service agreements pitting Elon Musk’s SpaceX against the United Launch Alliance (Joint Vennture between Lockheed and Boeing); $1.3 billion for Lockheed’s GPS-III satellites and Raytheon’s OCX ground control station program; and $1 billion for satellite communications programs such as the family of “Beyond-Line-of-Sight” terminals.

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