The Senate Armed Services Committee would provide $2.6 billion in the 2007 defense budget to extend production of the C-17 airlifter. In its markup of the defense bill it authorized purchase of two more C-17 airlifters than the 12 requested by the Pentagon and an advance buy of C-17 parts for additional aircraft, effectively extending production. House counterparts would authorize purchase of an additional three C-17s in 2007. The only issue now would seem to be how many more—not whether there will be more—of the new airlifters will Congress authorize. (There’s also an unlikely-to-succeed move in the Senate to squirrel some money for more C-17s in the 2006 emergency supplemental—see below.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.