Members of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel did not add money to buy more C-17s in their markup of the Fiscal 2011 defense spending bill. Halting C-17 production has been one of the Pentagon’s major budget-related goals for Fiscal 2011. The belief is that the Air Force already has excess strategic airlift with the 223 C-17s authorized, plus a fleet of 111 C-5s. In fact, Pentagon officials have been adamant in their desire for no more C-17s. Although the HAC-D did go against the Pentagon’s wishes on another front—the F136 engine for the F-35 strike fighter (see Exacerbation, but not Resignation below)—it acted in step with DOD leadership regarding the C-17 during Tuesday’s mark-up. In fact, no House nor Senate action so far this year has added money to Fiscal 2011 defense legislation for C-17 production. (See CongressDaily report and The Hill report)
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.