Questions Remain on JCA

Senate Defense Appropriators last week passed their version of the 2009 defense spending bill, calling for nearly $488 billion, about $4 billion less than the President’s request. As part of the $101.8 billion directed toward aircraft procurement, the subcommittee markup funds advance procurement for 20 F-22s, defers funding on two F-35s, funding 14 in Fiscal 2009 and advance dollars for 27 in 2010, and funds 38 USAF Predator unmanned aerial vehicles. It also provides funds for seven C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft for the Army, making no mention, in its markup summary, of the Air Force request for advance procurement funds. As we noted last week, House Appropriators reportedly are questioning whether the Air Force really needs the JCA, much to the consternation of Air National Guard supporters. Senate defense appropriators also realigned funding within the Air Force account to aid its move to end its personnel drawdown, a move suggested by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in June just after he ousted the service’s top leaders.