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House Committee Cuts Pentagon Budget Request

Jun. 11, 2013 - 05:07PM   |  
By PAUL MCLEARY   |   Comments
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WASHINGTON — A US House panel has put forth language that would cut $3.4 billion from the Pentagon’s 2014 base budget request, while increasing funding by $5.3 billion for the war effort in Afghanistan.

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee would cut $750 million from the Defense Department’s procurement account and $1.1 billion from research programs.

Defense News obtained a draft report from subcommittee Chairman Rep. CW Bill Young, R-Fla., on the 2014 defense appropriations bill.

When broken down by service, however, the cuts don’t look so bad.

The Army’s aircraft procurement account would actually shoot up from $5 billion to $5.2 billion, with $135 million going toward buying 21 Lakota helicopters that the Army had scrubbed from its budget request. The Army slashed the previously planned number of Lakotas it wanted to buy from 31 to 10 next year, giving all of the new birds to the National Guard. There’s also an additional $146 million to buy eight more Black Hawk helicopters.

When it comes to the yearly battle over the Abrams tank — the Army doesn’t want to build or upgrade any more tanks until 2019, but Congress wants to keep the tank line in Lima, Ohio, humming until then — doesn’t receive much ink in this year’s document.

The committee says that it will “continue to monitor” the situation as it anticipates the long-awaited Army force mix study to be released this summer. That study will spell out how brigades are structured and how many heavy brigades — which incorporate Abrams tanks — remain in the active duty service.

The House Armed Services Committee last week added $168 million for Abrams tanks in its budget markup, explaining that the money should go toward upgrading older National Guard tanks since in the future the National Guard’s role “will increase due to possible Active Duty reductions, making the Army more reliant on its National Guard brigades in case of a major conflict.”

The Navy’s request for aircraft buys is slashed by $800 million, falling to $17 billion, but is recommended to receive $922 million more in shipbuilding funds, hitting $15 billion. Almost all of that money would go toward the Virginia-class submarine program.

On the Air Force side, airlift platforms took the largest hit, with the committee signing off on a USAF request to remove $50 million from the recapitalization programs on the MC- and HC-130 aircraft. The service also requested, and received, a reprogramming decrease of $175 million for modifications of in-service aircraft, including $33 million from the C-130 and $72 million from the MC-9 Reaper.

Under the headline “System Development and Demonstration,” the USAF received a $55 million reprogramming decrease for the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH), notable because the service is evaluating how to proceed with its replacement CRH program. Although the service desired a competition for the next CRH design, EADS North America, Boeing and Northrop Grumman all declined to enter a bid, leaving Sikorsky the sole entrant at the January deadline.

In total, HAC-D approved just under $813 million in reprogramming increases, denying the Air Force $56 million in requested decreases.

Much of that came from a denied request to reprogram $9.78 million for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program because of concern that it would delay system-level environmental tests on the final satellite (F-20), which could push its launch date back to fiscal 2016.

“This is not acceptable operational risk,” warned the committee. “The Air Force should not intentionally delay the F-20 availability for launch.”

Aaron Mehta contributed to this report.

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