House Panel OKs $8.9B For Special Ops

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By John M. Doyle

The House Armed Services Committee took up the Obama administration's fiscal 2010 defense budget request June 16 and quickly authorized $8.9 billion for Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and $603 million for the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine program.

As the 62-member committee worked its way through the individual subcommittee portions of the $550.4 billion authorization bill, it passed the terrorism subcommittee's recommendation of $8.9 billion for SOCOM and $308.4 million to fully fund SOCOM's unfunded priorities.

The committee also passed a block of amendments that require reports to Congress on the Defense Department's requirements for non-lethal weapons systems; recruitment and retention of civilian and uniformed cyber operations personnel; and the Defense Intelligence Agency's progress in developing intelligence analysis that uses biometrics.

The committee also passed the air and land forces subcommittee recommendation to continue funding procurement, research and development on an alternate engine for the F-36 Joint Strike Fighter (Aerospace DAILY, June 15). The panel authorized spending $603 million on the Rolls-Royce/GE F136 engine and planned to offset the expense by cutting the total JSF procurement request for FY '10 to 28 aircraft from 30, taking one aircraft each from the Air Force and Marine Corps.

An amendment passed by the full committee in the air and land portion of the bill requires the Pentagon to study and submit a report on an interim buy of upgraded F-15s, F-16s and F-18s to close the "fighter gap" predicted by many observers for the period between 2015 and 2025 as older F-15s and F-16s retire and before the F-35 is at peak production.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), called for the Pentagon to study whether Congress should authorize a multiyear procurement contract for so-called 4.5-generation fighter aircraft.

The committee also defeated an amendment by Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) to restore funding for ground-based missile interceptors using money set aside to pay for dismantling North Korea's nuclear program, if such disarmament is ever negotiated.

U.S. Capitol Building photo: U.S. Government

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