Congress: Consider Tanker Industrial Base

This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

House defense appropriators have directed the U.S. Air Force to consider "industrial base concerns" in its next evaluation of a replacement air refueling tanker.

The directive was contained in the $487.7 billion fiscal 2009 defense appropriations bill approved July 30 by the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee.

Fully funds tanker program

The measure, which is not expected to make it to the House floor before the summer recess that begins Aug. 4, is $4 billion below President Bush's budget request and $28.4 billion above the fiscal 2008 defense spending measure enacted.

The bill, which must clear the full Appropriations Committee before consideration by the full House, fully funds the tanker program at $893 million. Lawmakers also directed USAF to comply with findings by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which sustained Boeing's protest of the decision to award a $35 billion contract to a team headed by Northrop Grumman and Airbus parent EADS.

Boeing supporters and Buy America advocates in Congress complained that the Air Force failed to take U.S. industrial base issues into consideration when it picked the Northrop Grumman-EADS offering. Air Force officials insisted the law did not require them to do so.

Redistributes F-35 funds

The fiscal 2009 spending bill also fully funded the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter but redistributed funds within the program. Airframe production funding was cut $786 million and $430 million was directed to continue development of an alternative engine. The measure also includes $320 million for risk mitigation in the test program, including the restoration of two test aircraft eliminated by the Defense Department last year.

Read the rest of this story, see what makes a "kick ass missile," a "submerged" USAF bomber and the MAV's antics from our Aviation Week friends on Military.com.

-- Christian

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