DefSec Robert Gates finally gave the nod to using the multiyear authority granted him by Congress last year.
Rep. Todd Akin, top Republican on the House Armed Services air and land forces subcommittee, has pushed and pushed and pushed for Gates to use the multiyear authority that Congress granted, and which it jealously guards, immediately crowed about the news.
“I commend Secretary Gates and (Navy) Secretary Mabus for seeing the light and moving forward with a multiyear contract. A multiyear contract for F-18s saves the Navy and taxpayers over half a billion dollars, provides stability for the workforce in St. Louis, and is an important insurance policy as the Navy faces a large strike fighter shortfall. It is encouraging to see the Navy and DoD come to their senses on this issue, after I have spent two years arguing that a multiyear contract made sense on all fronts," said the Missouri lawmaker.
“This multiyear is the first step toward addressing the Navy’s fighter shortfall, but more needs to be done. Super Hornets are fantastic planes that provide amazing capabilities for our Navy and are the most affordable fighter aircraft the DoD is currently buying. The DoD should consider using the fantastic price provided by the multiyear contract to buy additional planes to reduce the Navy’s fighter gap” said Akin.
Akin's state colleague, Sen. Kit Bond, issued a brief press statement, calling the decision "a tremendous win" for the military and the country.
The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, said the multiyear should help the US bridge the much-debated fighter gap, between the aging F-18 fleet and the introduction of the carrier version of the F-35. “Not only is this deal good for U.S. taxpayers, but it will ultimately provide much needed air assets to our military. Until the Joint Strike Fighter comes online and is deployed, our nation faces a requirements shortfall that must be mitigated. The Navy’s decision will help fill that gap,” McKeon said.