“The Navy is facing a strike fight-
er shortfall, and this cut will only
make that shortfall worse,” Akin,
whose district is near the Boeing
Co. plant that produces the planes,
said in a statement. “The F- 18 is an
extremely capable and extremely
affordable fighter plane, and is the
only option currently available to
address the Navy’s fighter gap.”
The House-passed defense author-
ization bill fully funds the 28 fighters
requested for next year. House appro-
priators, meanwhile, trimmed a mod-
est $63.5 million from the request,
but still set aside enough funding to
buy all 28 aircraft.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, which is typically the last of
the four congressional defense panels to consider the budget request,
had not yet marked up its spending
bill by press time July 15.
Akin stressed that the cut is not
a “done deal,” adding he will leverage his role as seapower subcommittee chairman to restore the aircraft during House-Senate conference negotiations on the authorization bill later this year.
“I will do everything in my power
to reverse this cut and ensure that
the F- 18 program is fully funded,”
The Super Hornet, meanwhile, is
not the only fighter to catch the
Senate Armed Services Committee’s
attention. Its bill puts new requirements on the multiservice F- 35
Lightning II, or Joint Strike Fighter,
program, including requiring the
government to negotiate a fixed-price deal on the next batch of
stealth jets it buys. The measure
also requires F- 35 maker Lockheed
Martin to absorb cost overruns on
the next batch of aircraft.
The F- 35, the largest program on
the Pentagon’s books, has a history of
cost overruns and schedule delays.
The price for the program is projected to be $382 billion, which is 65 percent higher than the original cost
estimate nearly a decade ago.
“I would prefer not to discuss the specifics of the private
advice I rendered with respect to these decisions. As I said, I
support them. What I can tell you is the president’s decisions
are more aggressive and incur more risk than I was originally
prepared to accept.”
Adm. Michael Mullen
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
In prepared testimony to the House Armed Services Committee on President
Barack Obama’s announced withdrawal of some forces from Afghanistan.
The Weekly Standard online edition, June 23
“What we’ve learned over the last decade is that the use of
special operations forces and drones and very discriminating,
focused targeting is actually a much better approach to dealing with the terrorist challenge than tens of thousands of
conventional ground forces.”
A senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a retired
On the likelihood that clandestine units such as the Army Rangers, Green Berets
and Navy SEALs will see more action in Afghanistan as overall troop levels decline.
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, June 24
The Defense Department insists
that the Navy and Air Force variants
are on track, and requested $9.7 billion to continue development and
buy 32 of the fighters for the services. Problems continue with the
Marine Corps’ variant, the F-35B,
which is on a two-year probation.
Senate Armed Services ranking
member John McCain, R-Ariz., one
of the program’s biggest skeptics,
said he does not believe his panel’s
version of the authorization measure goes far enough.
When the defense bill heads to
the Senate floor in September,
McCain plans to introduce a version
of an amendment he offered during
the committee’s markup that would
have put the entire F- 35 program on
probation on Dec. 31. Under that
amendment, the fighter would be
terminated a year later if the program’s price tag remained 10 percent
or more above target costs.
The amendment failed on a tie
vote in committee. Levin said he
voted against it because it would
have affected an existing contract.
But he said he wants to work with
McCain to find compromise language that would legally put pressure on Lockheed Martin to keep
costs under control on the fighters
already under contract.
It is unclear whether McCain will
be willing to water down his language, which he believes failed to
pass the committee because of Lockheed’s influence on Capitol Hill.
House OKs Fiscal 2012
$649B Appropriations Bill
After rejecting politically charged
amendments on Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the House overwhelmingly approved the $649
billion fiscal 2012 defense appropriations bill on a 336-87 vote