It’s the cost and what is needed at the heart of this.
The cost has come down per unit but preflight it’s going to be expensive. The USAF has to date had a requirement for 1765 F35. The proposal would in theory cap F35A for the USAF at 1,050 with around 700 new build F16V. However these would be built in the South Carolina plant slated for export F16s not the established Texas line. Which means that the F35 lines in Texas would still be open meaning that the USAF could turnaround and say, situation changed we need more F35A and trade off F16. Also keep in mind the USAF has the largest F16 legacy fleet which are currently undergoing refurbishment to F16V configuration meaning some of that 700 might not even be needed as they could at least in theory SLEP some of the younger F16 in service.
Really what this is about is that the USAF is five or six air forces in one with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve requirements that don’t have demands like stealth but have stricter budget maintenance demands. The USAF former Secretary talked about maintaining a mixed force of Fifth Gen and Fourth Gen machines.
I mean 1050(F35)+300(F22) is already far more than Russia or China are likely to have by the mid 2030s.
Then add in 300 (F15EX/F15E)+ >700(F16) is what 2,350 modern fighters. Then you factor in an unknown number of emerging Sixth gens and unmanned loyal wingman. Not even counting additional USN and USMC but this is already far more than the next few Air Forces combined.
Real truth is that hundreds are being produced and sold around the world. Countries like the UAE jump at the acquisition opportunity and many more have to wait in line.
That’s assuming to near term. Both the ship building and fighter construction is planed out years in advance.Assuming US economy is not affected by COVID. If so, such targets seem unrealistic. Already we are seeing Arleigh Burke Flight III having trouble because of COVID.
Problem is the next few military doesn't regard the aircrafts as main weapon in any war.Then add in 300 (F15EX/F15E)+ >700(F16) is what 2,350 modern fighters. Then you factor in an unknown number of emerging Sixth gens and unmanned loyal wingman. Not even counting additional USN and USMC but this is already far more than the next few Air Forces combined.