Six of the House Armed Service Committee’s panels have released their markups of the Fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. Among the language they added is a provision calling for the United States to “begin research and development” to “fill current military requirements and capability gaps” in as soon as two years, if Russia does not return to compliance with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. Other measures block a proposed BRAC round in 2017, reject proposals to cut commissary and housing benefits, and support adding a 401k-type retirement benefit for military members serving less than 20 years. The lawmakers also want an independent assessment of the reliability of the F-35’s F135 engine. They blocked funds for a follow-on military weather satellite program and pressed forward with support for developing an alternate to the Russian RD-180 rocket engine. The full committee is scheduled to hold its markup hearing on April 29.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.