First F-35C Restored Funds Pass Congress

Feb 11, 2009
By Amy Butler

Four defense oversight committees in Congress have approved the U.S. Navy’s reprogramming request in fiscal 2009 for funds to secure purchases of the first Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) designed for aircraft carrier operations, according to defense officials and congressional staff.

The reprogramming for roughly $40 million will pay for long lead parts for three Lockheed Martin F-35Cs, according to U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Davis, F-35 program manager.

Congress had trimmed the long-lead funds for these three JSFs, leaving money for only one carrier variant in the budget. The cut would have forced the program to delay initial operational test and evaluation for the F-35C, as six carrier variants were needed for the test phase, officials said.

Full funding for the four carrier versions is expected to follow in the Pentagon’s FY ’10 budget request being developed by the Defense Department and President Barack Obama’s national security team. Obama’s full FY ’10 request is expected around April.

Current-year reprogramming, which is limited in scope, tends to require only the approval of related congressional oversight committees, rather than an act of Congress like annual appropriations.

Meanwhile, the F-35 program is preparing for pit tests of the F-35B, the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (STOVL) version that will go first to the U.S. Marine Corps. Those tests should begin by Feb. 18 and take about a month to complete, program officials say.

“While everyone wants to see the vertical landing, this is probably the most critical part of the STOVL testing program now,” Davis says.

Photo: DoD

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