When Senate and House authorizers last week reached agreement on the 2010 defense policy bill, they included language to prohibit USAF from carrying out its legacy fighter retirement plan until at least 30 days after the service provides “a detailed report” to Congress. (The House already passed the policy bill.) That matches the direction appropriators appear to be headed. The full Senate included a fighter retirement prohibition in the companion spending bill, following an amendment from National Guard Caucus chairmen Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who maintain the plan will adversely impact the air sovereignty alert mission. The House spending bill had no such prohibition, but it did express concern considering the action was outside BRAC. Senate and House conferees were still working on the spending bill last week.
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.