SASC Prohibits A-10, AWACs Reductions

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s mark of the Fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill was slightly more accommodating towards pay and personnel costs than the full House version, which passed last week, but SASC took a tough line on most of the Air Force’s proposed aircraft reductions, particularly its ISR portfolio. The mark prohibits USAF from “retiring or preparing to retire” any A-10 or E-3 AWACS, or from making any significant changes in the manning levels of those two aircraft in Fiscal 2015. In addition, SASC increased A-10 operations and maintenance funding by $256.5 million in the bill, and AWACS O&M by $34.6 million. The panel also cut $63 million in procurement funds for the next generation JSTARS effort, and ordered the service to integrate “existing technologies” into a replacement aircraft. The mark prohibited the retirement of operational JSTARS pending the completion of a report outlining the service’s modernization plan for the ISR platform. The SASC mark also directed the continuing modernization of the U-2, which USAF wanted to retire, with an additional $62.3 million in modernization funds. USAF’s requested $244.5 million for RQ-4 Global Hawk research and development was slashed to $108.5 million because the money would be duplicative of U-2 capabilities, according to the mark. (Summary of the SASC mark.)