The Pentagon is closing the doors on a new weapons-building effort and abandoning the plan to purchase hundreds of new aircraft, according to a memo seen by NBC News.
The Pentagon’s decision comes after years of delays and criticism that the military is lagging behind in building new aircraft to match the technology and capabilities of its rivals.
The move is a sign that the Pentagon has become too focused on the battlefield and its warfighting capabilities.
“This is not a time to be spending billions of dollars to make things that are not in use,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last month at a ceremony to mark the end of a three-year program to buy more than 600 new fighter jets and fighter-bombers.
In a statement released Monday, the Pentagon said the new policy would focus on developing the aircraft to meet the “threats of the 21st century,” which include the growing threat of cyberattacks and cyber attacks on U.S. infrastructure.
The policy announcement comes just two weeks after the Pentagon announced plans to buy nearly 500 new F-35 fighter jets.
Defense officials said the decision to move away from buying the planes was made to save money, not to create a new program that would be too expensive.
The Defense Department did not disclose the number of planes it would buy or when they would be delivered.
But some experts estimate the purchase of more than 1,500 F-16 jets is in the works.
The new plan to buy new aircraft would also have the added benefit of not having to keep the F-15s and F-22s on the ground fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, as they do now.
The decision to stop building new planes follows a string of delays in the Pentagon’s plan to build the F100 super jet, which it hopes will be ready by 2020.
The F100, a fighter jet capable of carrying a maximum of 1,000 people, is supposed to replace the F105 Joint Strike Fighter, which is the Pentagon plane that currently flies on the front lines in Iraq and Syria.
The jet will also replace the older F105 and F111 planes that are now in service.
The F100 has faced delays due to the cost of the new F100 jet and the difficulties in producing the jet.
The Pentagon has said it will be able to buy the new jets on schedule, but many analysts have questioned the suitability of a plane that would cost more than $100 billion.
The military has said the cost to buy F100s will be between $60 billion and $90 billion, though that estimate was revised after it became clear the plane would be a far cry from what the military had envisioned.
The jet is slated to cost $130 billion.