The Senate late Thursday approved the Fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill by a vote of 84 to 15. The legislation now goes to the White House for President Obama’s signature. “Tonight, we passed legislation that is good for our national security, and for the men and women who protect us and their families,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, in a statement released after the Dec. 19 vote. “This bill ensures that important pay and benefits, including combat pay, will continue; includes powerful and important new tools in our fight against military sexual assault; and makes progress toward the day we can close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay,” he said. The bill, passed by the House on Dec. 12, authorizes $526.8 billion for base defense programs in this fiscal year—compared to the $520.5 billion in defense discretionary spending set in the bipartisan budget agreement that the Senate passed on Wednesday—plus an additional $80.7 billion for overseas contingency operations and $17.6 billion for Energy Department national security programs. Among the Air Force provisions, the bill prevents the retirement of Global Hawk Block 30 remotely piloted aircraft and termination of the C-130H Avionics Modernization Program. It also directs the Defense Secretary to come up with a plan for the potential transfer of the MC-12W fleet to the Army. (Inhofe statement.) (See also The Best Hope That We Have.)
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.