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Defense

US Government cuts the funds to JSF and FCS military programs

Washington, USA - What the USA financial manoeuvre provides for Fiscal Year 2008

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(WAPA) - A U.S. House Armed Services subcommittee took big chunks out of two high-profile Pentagon programs on May 2 during the first in a series of markups of the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill.

At the hands of the air and land forces subcommittee, the Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) suffered an USD 867 million cut, spread across several facets of the program; the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program will get one less aircraft.

Of the massive cut to FCS, reductions included:
- USD 566 million in system engineering funding.
- USD 362 million in contractor fees.
- USD 233 million from the MGB line.
- USD 46 million from robots.
- USD 21 million from UAVs - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

“The Army simply has too many bills to pay and not enough money to cover them,” said Rep. Jim Saxton N.J., the top Republican on the panel.

When FCS was conceived in 1999, the Army was very different, Abercrombie said, with no plans to increase personnel, upgrade combat vehicles or field medium-weight, rapidly deployable combat brigades.

On the air side, the Air Force will ultimately see a USD 480 million cut to JSF across the bill, with USD 125 million each coming from Air Force and Navy research and development coffers and the removal of one F-35 from the fiscal 2008 supplemental.

The USD 230 million plane would have replaced an F-16 that crashed in Iraq in November. Under the bill, the money would be redirected to cover the cost of developing a second engine for the JSF.

The committee also cut more than USD 350 million from two key Air Force programs for which requests for proposals are out: USD 200 million came out of the KC-X tanker replacement program, and USD 153.3 million from the combat search-and-rescue helicopter (CSAR-X) program.

The Air Force has touted the tanker program as its current top procurement priority. Though the CSAR-X contract was awarded to Boeing last November, the decision was immediately protested by the two other competitors and has since been on hold (see AVIONEWS).

Other Army reductions included cuts to the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) program and restrictions on the Joint Network Node funding. The bill recommends a USD 470 million cut and the termination of the ARH program.

The bill also would provide USD 31 million for upgrades to the OH-58, the helicopter the ARH is intended to replace.

In spite of the assorted cuts, the subcommittee’s version of the bill also would provide the Air Force with an unrequested USD 2.4 billion to purchase 10 C-17 cargo aircraft. The move will keep open a Long Beach, Calif., Boeing production line that the aerospace giant last month threatened to close for a second time in as many years. The bill would allow the service to retire C-5 aircraft as needed, provided that a fleet of 299 strategic airlift aircraft is maintained. With a current fleet of 275 planes and the C-17 line churning out about one per month, the Air Force would not actually be able to begin retiring planes until 2009.

The measure also provided the Army an additional USD 2 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected tactical vehicles.

Other bill highlights included:

- An additional USD 500 million in procurement funding for the National Guard and reserve to cover equipment shortfalls.
- An additional USD 294 million for Stryker combat vehicles, offsetting a USD 288 million cut in the Stryker Mobile Gun System due to delays.
- An additional USD 30 million for engine upgrades to Air National Guard F-16s.
(Avionews)
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(World Aeronautical Press Agency - )
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