Can You Hear Me Now?

Defense Secretary Bob Gates, after hearing that the House Armed Services Committee had included the F136 engine and tacked on caveats to F-35 strike fighter funding in its markup of the 2011 defense bill, repeated his veto threat. He told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday afternoon that he’s “very concerned” about the committee’s markup. The Pentagon for years has tried to kill the F136, and Gates emphasized he has President Obama’s backing for a veto. He also targeted the committee’s strings, which committee members feel are needed to ensure the Pentagon sticks to its new schedule. However, Gates believes the “detailed conditions … would make it essentially un-executable and impose unacceptable schedule and budget costs.” In announcing the restructure, Gates said operational capability dates shouldn’t change, but subsequently the Air Force and Navy projected slips. This week, the Senate Armed Services Committee begins its markup. (Pentagon press briefing transcript)