Six of the House Armed Service Committee’s panels have released their markups of the Fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. Among the language they added is a provision calling for the United States to “begin research and development” to “fill current military requirements and capability gaps” in as soon as two years, if Russia does not return to compliance with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. Other measures block a proposed BRAC round in 2017, reject proposals to cut commissary and housing benefits, and support adding a 401k-type retirement benefit for military members serving less than 20 years. The lawmakers also want an independent assessment of the reliability of the F-35’s F135 engine. They blocked funds for a follow-on military weather satellite program and pressed forward with support for developing an alternate to the Russian RD-180 rocket engine. The full committee is scheduled to hold its markup hearing on April 29.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."