Tuesday, May 22, 2012

House Panel Wants $5.3 Billion More For Weapons

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A powerful House defense spending panel has recommended adding more than $5.3 billion to the Pentagon’s procurement accounts in 2013 to buy more aircraft, ships, vehicles and weapons, according to a report.

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee, in a report that has not been publicly released, tells the Air Force not to retire Northrop Grumman Block 30 Global Hawk unmanned intelligence aircraft or the Alenia Aermacchi C-27J cargo plane.

It also instructs the Air Force to purchase up to 17 more C-27Js to meet the prior program goals of buying 38 aircraft.

Last week, the subcommittee chairman, C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., announced that his version of the 2013 defense appropriations bill was $3.1 billion higher than the Pentagon’s overall spending request. The full committee is expected to review the subcommittee’s recommendations this week.

The subcommittee added $50 million for procurement and installation of a back-up oxygen system on the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor. Pilots of the aircraft have experienced hypoxia-like symptoms due to a suspected lack of oxygen, however, the Air Force has not been able to determine the cause.

It also directs the Air Force to continue the Boeing C-130 Avionics Modernization Program, which has been marked for termination.

The subcommittee’s mark adds 10 Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters to the Pentagon’s 59-aircraft request and three EADS Light Utility Helicopters to the 34 requested. All the additional helicopters would go to the National Guard.

The mark adds $300 million for the Raytheon Patriot program to buy additional PAC-3 missiles and launcher systems.

It also adds $181 million to keep open the General Dynamics Land Systems Abrams tank production line in Lima, Ohio, and $140 million for upgrades to the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The Army wants to temporarily shut down Abrams production.

Lawmakers also added $100 million for Army National Guard AM General Humvee modernization.

The subcommittee added $562 million for 11 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets to the Navy’s 26-aircraft request. Lawmakers also added one Bell-Boeing V-22 Opsrey, one Bell UH-1Y helicopter, one Bell AH-1Z helicopter, five Sikorsky MH-60R helicopters and two Lockheed Martin KC-130J tanker transports.

As for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the committee recommends $528.5 million in procurement cuts, citing unjustified increases, engine cost growth and contractor delays. DoD requested $8.9 billion for the F-35 in 2013, which includes procurement and research and development.

As for ships, the subcommittee added $988 million for one Bath Iron Works DDG-51 destroyer. It also added $506 million to retain three Navy cruisers and conduct engineering work to add a ballistic missile defense capability to these ships.

In the Air Force, the subcommittee added five Lockheed Martin C-130J cargo haulers, one base model, two HC-130J rescue models and two MC-130J special operations models. It also added 12 General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers.

The subcommittee added $1 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment.

The committee approved the Pentagon’s request for $88.5 billion for overseas contingency operations. While the top line number is unchanged, the subcommittee has cut in some areas while boosting funding in others. For example, the subcommittee recommends reducing the Pentagon’s $400 million request for the Commanders Emergency Response Program in Afghanistan by $150 million.

It also adds $1 billion for additional equipment reset.

The subcommittee recommends imposing restrictions on some reimbursement funding provided to coalition countries, specifically Pakistan, which has blockaded NATO supply routes through the country since November.

The subcommittee says it is “deeply concerned” by reports alleging human rights abuses by the Afghan Local Police and urges the Pentagon to take additional steps to make sure U.S. funds are being used appropriately.

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