House Defense Authorizers Shake Things Up a Bit

The House Armed Services Committee trimmed the Air Force’s F-35 request by one aircraft (from 10 to 9), added one C-130J transport (from three to four), and added funds for concept studies of a future bomber (see below). The committee approved its version of the Fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill June 17. We reported yesterday on the panel’s decision to add advance procurement money for 12 F-22s. The panel also told the Pentagon to maintain a second engine provider for the F-35. Among other notable tweaks to the Air Force’s proposal, it added $23 million to fund the ORS-1 imaging satellite, an unfunded requirement. It also trimmed back on Air Force requests for next-generation GPS and space-based infrared imaging work. The panel added language that prohibits the retirement of any fighters until the Pentagon provides a report explaining how to fill the capability gaps left by their removal. (USAF would like to phase out 254 legacy fighters next year.) It also mandated that the Defense Department maintain a strategic airlift fleet of 316 aircraft, which is the current size of the fleet given a program of record for 205 C-17s plus 111 C-5s. It added no money for more C-17s. (HASC bill summary)