Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s panel on air and land forces, has joined the chorus of those influential lawmakers calling for DOD to purchase new tankers from both Boeing and Northrop Grumman instead of taking another stab at a winner-take-all competition that could again become mired in controversy and delays. “I think that a consensus is developing” in the Congress for a dual-buy, Abercrombie told reporters after speaking at a defense industry conference in Washington, DC, March 11, Reuters news wire service reported that same day. Abercrombie joins John Murtha (D-Penn.), head of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee, who has already endorsed a dual buy as the best means of ending the current stalemate between Boeing and Northrop and their supporters in Congress. Thus far, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has opposed the idea, saying it’s a more costly option. But, speaking at the same defense conference yesterday, Murtha said he was working to include billions of dollars in the next war supplemental to jump-start the dual-buy tanker acquisition, Reuters reported yesterday.
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.