The House Appropriations Committee passed the 2008 defense spending bill, cutting nearly $3.6 billion from the Administration request. As promised, it does include enough money to continue development of an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. And, like their authorization counterparts, the House appropriators put money back in the DOD medical coffers to offset a proposed fee hike for military retirees on Tricare. In their words, “rejecting the President’s proposal to inflict $1.9 billion in Tricare fee and premium increases on our troops.” The spending bill, which should go before the full House next week, also would provide—as authorizers did earlier—a 3.5 percent pay raise for military personnel instead of the 3 percent requested by the President. And, it slices about half of the Administration request for funding for the Eastern European missile defense sites.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S. The bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.