Lawmakers prodded Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace during the House Armed Services Committee budget hearing Feb. 7 to review the bidding on the Pentagon decision not to purchase any more new C-17 strategic airlifters. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) called the present situation “somewhat of an airlift crisis” considering the ongoing need to project forces. Pace maintained that the determination to limit C-17s to 180 is still right and that last year’s Congressional add of 10 airframes more than takes care of losses through excessive use. Tauscher was not deterred, though, coming right back with: “We know we’re going to need more C-17s.” She urged Gates and Pace to keep the C-17 “line warm.”
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.