Appropriators cut $695 million from fighter jet, cancel tactical vehicle

The Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday approved a defense spending bill for next year that cuts $26 billion from the Pentagon's $656.8 billion request, including trimming $695 million from the Joint Strike Fighter program and cancelling the troubled Joint Light Tactical Vehicle in development for the Army and Marine Corps.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who chairs the defense panel and the full committee, assured his colleagues that the bill covers the military's most pressing needs despite the sizeable cut, which was mandated in the Budget Control Act lawmakers approved last month.

"This recommendation takes care of our men and women in uniform and their families," Inouye said during the brief markup. "It fully supports military readiness, protects the forces and maintains our technological edge."

The cut to the $9.7 billion request for the Joint Strike Fighter, the largest single program on the Pentagon's books, comes as the Lockheed Martin jet's backers on Capitol Hill launch a public campaign to protect it from sharp reductions.

During Tuesday's markup, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said she was concerned that the reduction would ultimately drive up the price tag of the aircraft because it slows down production rates. Lockheed assembles the aircraft at its Ft. Worth, Texas, plant. But Hutchison said she would not oppose the bill.

Inouye said he supports the F-35 and believes the program officials have made progress correcting cost and schedule problems with the fighter over the last year. But he is recommending freezing production rates at this year's levels for 2012 and 2013 to allow more time for officials to get the program on track. The goal, he suggested, is to reduce costs by stabilizing the program before the Pentagon ramps up its buys.

"The test program is only 10 percent complete, yet the request continues to ramp up production of aircraft in fiscal years 2012 and 2013," he said. "For each aircraft we build this early in the test program, we will have to pay many millions in the future to fix the problems that are identified in testing."

Inouye said he canceled Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which would ultimately replace the ubiquitous Humvee, because costs had increased significantly and the military had constantly changed its requirements. The Pentagon had requested $243.9 billion for the program.

"The committee believes that alternatives exist today to meet the Army and Marine Corps' requirements to recapitalize and competitively upgrade the Humvee fleet, and supports funding for those programs," Inouye said.

In total, the bill includes more than 600 line-item reductions, most of which the committee made because of program terminations, schedule delays, program changes, inadequate justification from the Pentagon, unaffordable costs or "corrections to poor fiscal discipline," Inouye said. The budget for the Air Force's new aerial refueling tanker, for instance, was trimmed by $135 million after the Air Force told the committee it could not spend all of the funds requested for the program next year.

The bill fully funds the $117.8 billion requested for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but did shift some money within those accounts to pay for more pressing needs. Indeed, the panel cut $5 billion because of planned force reductions in Afghanistan and another $1.6 billion requested for Afghanistan's security forces. After the markup, Inouye told reporters that the committee redirects those war funds to equipment and other priorities.

The full appropriations committee will meet Thursday afternoon to mark up the bill.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.