House Panel Supports More C-17s

: The House Armed Services air and land forces subcommittee supports adding $3.9 billion to the Department of Defense’s Fiscal 2009 budget request so that the Air Force can buy 15 additional C-17s beyond its 190-aircraft program of record, panel chairman Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) said in a May 7 release. Among the panel’s other notable action, it also supports inserting $523 million for advanced procurement of 20 F-22s under lot 10 in Fiscal 2010, according to Abercrombie. Both of these issues will be taken up by the full House Armed Services Committee the week of May 12, he said. Further, the subcommittee’s markup adds $526 million to keep alive the F136 engine program, the competing propulsion system to Pratt and Whitney’s F135 for the F-35 stealth fighter that DOD has recommended terminating. The Senate Armed Service Committee has already marked up its version of the Fiscal 2009 defense authorization bill. It did not include money to buy additional C-17s. And while it added $497 million for the F-22 program beyond lot 9 production, the Senate authorizers said those funds could be used either to shutter the production line or to go towards advanced procurement of lot 10 F-22s, with the decision lying with the next Administration. Like Abercrombie’s panel, the full Senate committee added money for the F136, but somewhat less at $465 million. The Air Force did not request funds to procure more C-17s in the Fiscal 2009 budget, with USAF officials citing more urgent priorities, like getting new tanker aircraft. But a request for 15 C-17s is listed as one of the top priorities in the service’s unfunded requirements list for Fiscal 2009.