Company management typically sees engineering as a problem.
It's hard to come up with technical solutions when your only tool is your worthless MBA.
No one is discounting the need for air power.
The question is whether or not a separate service is necessary and whether or not it is cost effective to have a separate service.
The last time we saw serious Air-to-Air combat was WWII. I'm sure the USAF made sense at the time.
Will history repeat itself? Will there be another serious air war in the future?
The British favored the F136 obviously. Willingness to contribute to the development may not have been there.
However, recall in the end that GE and RR offered to 'self fund' the remainder...