US House approves defence spending bill, blocks A-10 retirement

Washington DC
Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

The US House of Representatives voted on 19 June to block a US Air Force proposal to retire the Fairchild Republic A-10 attack fighter next year.

By approving the A-10 amendment filed by Representative Candice Miller by a 300-114 vote, the full membership of the House also thwarted a previous vote by the defence appropriations committee to retire the close air support specialist.

Miller added the amendment to the House version of a $491 billion Fiscal 2015 defence appropriations bill, which members approved on 20 June by a 340-73 vote.

Miller, who represents a district that includes an A-10 base, defended the A-10 as ideally suited to the close air support mission.

“The air force wants to save money, but they don’t have an adequate follow-on at this time, and, with what’s happening in Iraq and the Middle East, eliminating the A-10 is the absolute wrong move,” Miller said as she introduced the amendment.

It was not clear if the House added funds to cover the roughly $900 million cost of operating the A-10 fleet each year. The overall House bill adds only $200 million to the funding level requested by the Obama Administration, which had omitted funding for the A-10.

The House also passed an amendment that blocks the air force from retiring the Boeing KC-10 tanker fleet in Fiscal 2015.

As the debate over defence appropriations heads to the Senate, the House version of the bill shows that strong support remains for new acquisition of military aircraft despite an trend of overall declining spending.

In February, the Obama Administration submitted a budget proposing to retire the A-10, the Bell Helicopter OH-58D and the Lockheed Martin U-2 fleets. The House version of the bill would rescue the A-10 and U-2 fleets from the boneyard next year, but allow the army’s armed scout helicopter to retire.

The Obama Administration also proposed trimming next year’s lot of F-35s from 42 aircraft to 34, but the House version of the bill would split the difference and buy 38 aircraft.

The House version also would buy 12 Boeing EA-18Gs next year, overturning the Pentagon’s decision to mothball the production line.

Manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft fleets also won support in the House version. The bill would double the number of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 unmanned air vehicles to 24 and raise the number of acquired Northrop Grumman E-2Ds by one to five.