Senate Panel Scalps F-35 Funding, Slows Production Ramp Up

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel on Tuesday cut $695 million from the F-35 strike fighter program and recommended that aircraft production remains at Fiscal 2011 levels for two more years. These moves are meant “to limit outyear cost growth,” said Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), SAC chairman, in explaining the defense panel’s mark-up of the Fiscal 2012 defense appropriations bill. Although the panel “strongly” supports the program and is encouraged by its progress since last year’s restructuring, it felt that “excessive concurrency in development and production still exists,” said Inouye. The defense appropriators also were concerned that the number of production aircraft “continues to ramp up” even though the program is only 10 percent complete. “For each aircraft we build this early in the test program, we will have to pay many millions in the future to fix the problems that are identified in testing,” he said. (Inouye’s statement)