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Congress panel backs higher arms buys

May 15, 2012 at 4:03 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- A U.S. House of Representatives committee wants $5.3 billion more allocated for defense spending in 2013 to enable the government procurement agencies to buy more aircraft, ships, vehicles and weapons, news reports said.

There was no immediate independent comment on the report from Gannett news outlets, which said it sourced the information to a House appropriations defense subcommittee. The report wasn't publicly released, Gannett media companies Federal Times and defensenews.com said.

There was also no immediate comment from the Obama administration on the report which, if confirmed, could again pit the government against its Republican detractors.

The congressional panel wants to add "more than $5.3 billion to the Pentagon's procurement accounts in 2013 to buy more aircraft, ships, vehicles and weapons," said the report cited by the Gannett outlets.

The House appropriations defense subcommittee wants the U.S. 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 U.S. Air Force to purchase up to 17 more C-27Js to meet existing program goals of buying 38 aircraft.

U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., the subcommittee chairman, said last week his version of the 2013 U.S. defense appropriations bill was $3.1 billion higher than the Pentagon's overall spending request. The full committee is expected to review those 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. This was because pilots of the aircraft experienced hypoxic-like systems due to a suspected lack of oxygen, said the report. The Air Force hasn't been able to determine the cause, the report said.

It also directs the Air Force to continue the Boeing C-130 Avionics Modernization Program, which has been marked for termination. The C-130 is under increasing pressure from competing tactical transport aircraft suppliers from other countries, including Brazil, EU member countries and Russia.

A further departure in the appropriations plan means 10 more Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters will need to be added to the Pentagon's requests for 59 aircraft and an additional three EADS Light Utility Helicopters to be added to a previous request for 34. All the additional helicopters are set to go to the National Guard.

A further $300 million is demanded for the Raytheon Patriot program to buy additional PAC-3 missiles and launcher systems.

The General Dynamics Land Systems Abrams tank production line in Lima, Ohio, will benefit from a $181 million allocation if approved and $140 million will go toward upgrades to the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The proposed Bradley allocation is a response to the U.S. Army's plans to shut down Abrams production, although the suspension is likely to be temporary.

The subcommittee members added $100 million to go the U.S. Army National Guard AM General Humvee modernization.

Other major revised allocations proposed by the subcommittee include:

-- $562 million to add 11 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets to the Navy's 26-aircraft request.

-- One Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, one Bell UH-1Y helicopter, one Bell AH-1Z helicopter, five Sikorsky MH-60R helicopters and two Lockheed Martin KC-130J tanker transports.

-- $988 million for one Bath Iron Works DDG-51 destroyer for the U.S. Navy.

-- $506 million to keep and upgrade three U.S. Navy cruisers.

-- $1 billion for additional equipment reset.

But the subcommittee suggested cuts in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, said the report.

It wants $528.5 million taken out of procurement outlays, mainly a response to recent increases in the development costs of the jet. The Pentagon requested $8.9 billion for the F-35 in 2013.

It also recommended reducing by $150 million the Pentagon's $400 million request for the Commanders Emergency Response Program in Afghanistan.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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