Senate Panel Cuts Super Hornet Buy,
Puts Restrictions on F- 35 Program
The Senate Armed Services Committee has taken a swipe at one of the Navy’s most popular programs, agreeing to cut nine F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
fighter jets next year to save $495 million.
The panel, which released the details of its fiscal
2012 defense authorization bill June 17, said in a statement it could trim the Super Hornet request because
Congress already had boosted its buys of the carrier-based fighters for fiscal 2011.
The Super Hornet cut is part of the committee’s
effort to trim about $6 billion from the $670.8 billion
request for the Defense Department’s base budget and
war accounts next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
In the days leading up to his panel’s closed-door
markup of the bill, Senate Armed Services Chairman
Carl Levin, D-Mich., said he had asked the Pentagon
for recommendations on cuts, in light of President
Barack Obama’s plans to trim $400 billion from security accounts over the next 12 years.
The Pentagon never responded, Levin said, and the
committee made its own cuts. The Super Hornet was
one of the biggest targets in the committee-approved
bill, which sets Pentagon policy and prescribes military
The Pentagon’s budget request for next year
includes $2.4 billion to purchase 28 Super Hornets,
which is 27 more than had been planned as late as last
year. But the Navy requested the additional fighters as
part of a plan to limit the service’s impending fighter
shortfall to 65 aircraft, which it said it could manage.
U.S. MARINE CORPS
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin,
D-Mich., said the panel opted to cut nine F/A-18E/F Super
Hornet fighters from the fiscal 2012 defense authoriza-
tion bill after the Pentagon failed to respond to his
request for suggested cuts. Here, he speaks during the
reception for the Evening Parade at Marine Barracks
Washington May 6.
In April, two months after the
Pentagon released its budget request
for 2012, Congress added $495 million to the Defense Department’s fiscal 2011 budget to buy nine more
Super Hornets this year. That add-on appears to have made the F/A-
18E/F an easy target for the cost-conscious Senate committee.
“More recent information from
the Department of the Navy, which
accounts for the extra nine aircraft
and other changes, estimates that
the shortfall is now expected to be
52 aircraft,” according to the com-
mittee’s report that accompanies
the bill. “The committee accepts
the Navy’s word that the Navy can
manage the shortfall at a level of 65
or fewer aircraft.”
But one influential House law-
maker already is taking issue with
the cut. House Armed Services
seapower and projection forces
subcommittee Chairman Todd
Akin, R-Mo., called it “deeply dis-