The House Armed Services Committee has approved the addition of $215 million to the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2010 budget spending request to fund classified work on the Air Force’s next-generation bomber. Dave Helfert, spokesman for Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), confirmed this amount to the Daily Report yesterday. Abercrombie, chairman of the committee’s air and land forces panel, last week included $140 million for the future bomber in the subcommittee’s markup of the Pentagon’s proposed budget for next fiscal year. There was no money included for the bomber in the Pentagon’s request, but the Air Force had listed the $140 million as a classified line item in its list of Fiscal 2010 unfunded priorities (see item No. 9 on the list). It later surfaced that this classified request would support technology studies for the future bomber. Abercrombie’s panel supported that unfunded request. According to Helfert, the full committee, which completed its markups yesterday, built upon the subcommittee’s move by adding an additional $75 million. It is not known how the additional $75 million would be applied. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had put the future bomber program on hold earlier this year, saying a better understanding of requirements was necessary.
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.