Defense Spending Bill Adds Funding for 11 F-35s
AeroBD | The AERO news Company…FEB 16, 2016, LA, USA : As in past years, Congress is coming through with government-wide spending legislation – just in the nick of time – including $572.7 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal 2016. That amount includes funding for 68 Lockheed Martin-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighters – 11 more than President Barack Obama requested. It also adds $1 billion for seven Boeing EA-18G Growlers and five F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets. And it fully funds the 12 Boeing KC-46A tankers that the government asked for.
Not every program was so lucky. That includes the Long-Range Strike Bomber program, which is currently on hold while Boeing protests the Air Force’s contract award to Northrop Grumman. Citing the program delay, lawmakers are cutting $510 million from its research and development account. The bill, which was agreed to by congressional leaders but is not expected to pass both chambers of Congress until the week of Dec. 21, would fund the entire government and replace the series of so-called continuing resolutions that have been funding the government at fiscal 2015 levels.
It contains other provisions as well – including one championed by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) that completely upends restrictions put in place by the last two National Defense Authorization Acts on the use of Russian-made RD-180 engines. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who put restrictions in place on the use of the engine that ULA utilizes for its Atlas V launch vehicle, is furious and vowing revenge. “I assure my colleagues that this issue will not go unaddressed in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act,” he pledged in a speech on the Senate floor.
The bill makes other recommendations. For example, lawmakers express concern about the active electronically scanned array radar industrial base. It provides $40 million to support a “phase one” competition to address an urgent operational need for a competitive acquisition strategy and asks the defense secretary and Air Force secretary to report on the acquisition strategy for phase one and a plan to address phase two – to modernize radar for the entire F-16 fleet.
The bill also requests reports on the acquisition strategy for the Next Generation Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System.