Getting AMPed Up

Air Force operations and maintenance accounts may take a 15-percent cut because of the service’s position on the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP), Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) warned Wednesday. During a House Armed Services Committee’s seapower and projection forces panel hearing, Bridenstine reminded USAF acquisition chief William LaPlante that language in the Fiscal 2015 authorization bill prohibits the Air Force from spending any C-130 upgrade money unless it’s part of the whole AMP. The Air Force killed the AMP two years ago, saying it was unaffordable, but it has kept some elements to keep the C-130s compliant with air traffic control technology. LaPlante said the full AMP would cost $2.8 billion over the five-year defense plan, equivalent to “cutting the entire B-1 fleet,” or the A-10, or KC-10, or C-5. The limited upgrade will make the C-130s “safe” but won’t get it done by the FAA’s deadline of 2020, he said. Bridenstine suggested the Air Force was defying Congress on the AMP, noting that the language to implement it is “pretty clear” and includes the O&M account penalty if USAF refuses. LaPLante said he’s aware of the language, and that the USAF general counsel has determined the service is following a law-compliant course. “We have different interpretations” of what the law allows, LaPlante told Bridenstine. “I think we’re doing” what Congress intended, he said. Bridenstine noted that the law permits “no exception, no limitation” on doing the AMP in total.