Lt. Col. Richard “Tac” Turner, Commander, 40th Flight Test Squadron, and Lt. Col. Jacob “Duke” Lindaman, Commander, 85th Test & Evaluation Squadron, deliver the first F-15EX to its new home station, Eglin AFB, Florida, 11 March, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Raven)

WASHINGTON — The National Guard would like to buy a dozen more fighter aircraft, split between F-35s and F-15EXs, if it had more funding in the fiscal 2025 budget, it said in its $2.7 billion unfunded priority list.

The National Guard’s annual wish list, submitted to Capitol Hill on Thursday, breaks from those of the other US services, which shied away this year from listing big-ticket weapons platforms and focused far more on improving readiness and military construction needs.

The Guard would like $690 million to buy six additional F-15EXs, a sum it says would allow it to complete the planned 24 fighter buy for FY25, maximize industrial base output and complete a fleet of three Air National Guard combat squadrons needed to improve fighter jet capacity in the Indo-Pacific.

It also included $660 million for six F-35As, boosting annual procurement of the conventional takeoff model to 48 in FY25 and bringing the Air National Guard up to five F-35 combat squadrons and one training unit.

Both proposed fighter buys were the most expensive items on the list, which was first reported by Politico.

The annual unfunded lists typically provide Capitol Hill with ammo for boosting the defense budget —particularly to buy weapons made in the districts of lawmakers on the defense committees — but FY25 defense spending is capped by last year’s Fiscal Responsibility Act to about $850 billion. That creates a dilemma for lawmakers, as boosting spending for any unfunded priorities will have to be taken from other programs.

Aside from the unfunded fighters included in the list, the Guard would also invest $349 million in C-130 modernization if it had more money. That money would allow it to correct a funding shortfall from previous budget years and allow for the full recapitalization of two C-130H units to the newer C-130J.

The list additionally lays out a series of unfunded needs in personnel, military construction and readiness, including:

$153 million for additional Air National Guard aircraft and engine sustainment
$191 million to increase manning for the Army and Air National Guard
$177 million to rebuild vehicle maintenance shops damaged by hurricanes for the Army National Guard in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and to build an aircraft maintenance hangar to be used for maintenance of military aircraft in the Midwest
$4.3 million to add seven new nations to the State Partnership Program, which allows the Guard to train military units of partner nations

Separately, US Strategic Command joined Transportation Command and Cyber Command as the third major military organization to declare all of its funding priorities were fulfilled in the FY25 budget.