Sunday, May 04, 2008

20 more raptors for the usaf

The $542.5 billion defense authorization bill adopted by the Senate Armed Services Committee includes money to buy 20 more F-22 Raptors, but doesn’t recommend funding any additional C-17 cargo lifters. The baseline defense authorization legislation was adopted unanimously by the committee, Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said May 1, adding: “We adopted the numbers that were sent over by the administration.” Those numbers included funding for an additional 20 F-22 stealth jet fighters. The authorizing committee also approved $497 million either for advanced procurement of F-22s or for shutting the manufacturing line down. “That either/or decision will be made by the next president,” Levin said. The Bush administration did not seek any C-17s in its fiscal 2009 budget request “and none were authorized,” Levin said. However, the need for additional C-17s tops the U.S. Air Force’s Unfunded requirements List. The services placed 15 aircraft worth about $3.9 billion on its FY ‘09 list (Aerospace DAILY, Feb. 13). Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) who joined Levin at a Capitol Hill news conference said he “personally would support that program continuing” but the committee left it “to the next president to determine whether or not that program should continue.” And Levin said the decision does not mean the committee thinks the Pentagon has enough airlift capability. “There’s a number of options for that. The C-17’s not the only option,” he said, but did not go into detail. The Armed Services Committee also authorized continued funding, $430 million, for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) alternate engine program. But lawmakers also authorized $35 million to Pratt & Whitney, manufacturer of the JSF’s original F135 engine, to improve technologies. The bill also fully funds the administration request for the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems and adds $87 million to increase the access of Defense Department unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the National Air Space; Lawmakers agreed to fully fund the Pentagon’s plan to base interceptor missiles and X-Band radar in Eastern Europe - provided the system is successfully tested and the Polish and Czech parliaments approve deployment. The bill adds more than $270 million for near-term missile defense capabilities, including $100 million for Aegis BMD and SM-3 missiles, and $115 million for the Theater High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. The committee also cut $50 million from the Space Tracking and Surveillance System, another $50 million from the Multiple Kill Vehicle program and $45 million more from the troubled Airborne Laser (ABL) program. The cut to ABL does not remove funds allocated for ABL’s long-awaited 2009 shootdown test.

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