How the new V-22 Osprey is being built in US as Congress debates air force replacement
The Pentagon has been working on a new air-powered plane for nearly 20 years, but it has been nearly four years since Congress voted to buy a plane.
And while that’s still a long time to wait, Congress has been debating the air force’s replacement of the venerable V-222, which has flown for over 70 years.
“The Air Force has been very busy trying to figure out how to replace the V-21,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told reporters on Friday.
“But now they are in the final stages of doing the replacement for the V22, and we’ll be seeing the results of that, hopefully within a year or so.”
The Air Warfighter program is one of the military’s largest and most complex procurement programs, with $1.8 trillion in spending on airframes and helicopters, according to the Congressional Research Service.
But it’s a task that is proving to be far more challenging than Congress expected.
For example, the Air Force recently announced it would spend $934 million on the VF-23B, but Congress has not authorized any additional funds for the program.
While the Air Forces is expected to spend $8.5 billion on the F-35, a $600 billion program, it has yet to spend money on the C-130J, which is slated to be the last of the four main combat aircraft to be retired.
“There is an assumption that the F35 will be the replacement,” Sen John McCain told reporters.
In addition to the VFR-23, the program also includes the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the F12 Tomcat and the B-2 Spirit, which are scheduled to be replaced with the F5E Sabre and the F22 Raptor.
“We will have to replace these aircraft over the next few years,” Sen McCain said.
“I’m hopeful that Congress will approve the replacement.”
While the VFW-21 is expected in 2021, it’s unclear when it would actually be replaced.
Sen. McCain said that while he was optimistic about the new aircraft, “they are not designed for the long term.”