Senate Panel Blocks A-10, E-3 Retirement

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $489.6 billion Fiscal 2015 defense funding bill that supports most of the Air Force’s top procurement requests, but rejects the service’s request to retire the A-10 attack jets. The committee also approved $58.3 billion for overseas contingency operations, which covers Afghanistan and other global actions. Despite the panel’s unanimous vote late July 17, committee leaders expressed doubt the bill would get a hearing on the Senate floor before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Congress expects to recess for six weeks on July 31 and will be in session only a couple weeks in September before going home again to campaign for re-election. Congress is expected to approve a continuing resolution, which would fund the federal government at current levels, in September. The Senate bill joins the House version in approving procurement of the requested 26 F-35As, seven KC-46A tankers, 13 C-130Js, and 12 MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft. But the Senate panel refused to allow the Air Force to retire the A-10s, shifting $338 million from “lower priority” accounts to A-10 operations. It also barred retirement of any of the 31 E-3 AWACs. (Mark-up summary)